Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Leaked US antitrust report on Google adds weight to rivals' complaints

Zach Miners | March 23, 2015
A leaked report by staff at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission paints an ugly picture of Google as a bullying monopolist and adds credence to complaints from rivals who have long criticized its business practices.

Yelp refers to itself today as the 'de facto local search engine,' he noted, and has grown dramatically in the last four years.

Still, the staff report paints a damaging picture of a company that once pledged to "do no evil."

According to the staff report, Google responded to the FTC's concerns by giving rivals the choice to opt out of having their content used in its listings, but to remain in its core search engine.

In advertising, they concluded, Google violated antitrust law by restricting advertisers from running campaigns on rival search engines like Bing or Yahoo. Specifically, it blocked advertisers from using data gathered from Google ad campaigns to run campaigns on other sites. The commission did not secure commitments from Google to change its policies here, the Journal reported. One FTC commissioner cited a lack of evidence.

For its investigation, the FTC collected 9 million pages of documents from Google and other parties, and took sworn testimony from Google executives.

The FTC staff conceded there would be "many risks" in bringing a lawsuit against Google, the Journal reported, including the "substantial innovation" that Google would be able to demonstrate had taken place, and the intense competition it faces from Microsoft and others.

The Journal said it had viewed parts of the report after the FTC inadvertently disclosed it as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. The FTC declined to release the remainder of the report and asked the Journal to return the document, but the Journal did not.

The agency closed its investigation of Google in 2013, after the company agreed to make changes to some of its practices. Findings by the FTC staff helped to inform the FTC commissioners' final decision.

Meanwhile, Google has continued to expand its own services. Just this week it announced more comprehensive listings for hotel searches, and earlier this month it launched a new service to shop for car insurance in California, with other states on the way.

 

Previous Page  1  2 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.