FTC making preparations to sue Google for antitrust violations

imageThe New York Times reports that the Federal Trade Commission is preparing a recommendation that the government sue Google for abusing its position as the dominant search engine.

The accusation is that Google manipulates search results to favour its own products, and makes it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page.

The commission is also building a team to take Google to court, if it comes to that.

The European competition authorities are also pressing ahead and seeking changes in Google’s behaviour.

Joaquín Almunia, the European Union’s competition commissioner expressed concerns that Google is “using its dominance in online search to foreclose rival specialized search engines and search advertisers.”

Google is also being investigated by the attorneys general of six states: Texas, Ohio, New York, California, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

Accusations include that of manipulating the search results to favour Google commerce services such as Google Shopping  and Google Places for advertising local restaurants and businesses. In the civilian subpoenas, the F.T.C. calls this “preferencing.”

The investigators are also looking into whether Google’s automated advertising marketplace, AdWords, discriminates against advertisers from competing online commerce services like comparison shopping sites and consumer review Web sites.

The government is also investigating Google’s practices in the smartphone industry, inquiring if its contracts with handset makers and carriers prevent them from removing or modifying Google products, like its Android operating system or Google search. In addition, it is looking into Google’s use of smartphone patents.

The most probable outcome of the antitrust investigations of Google, antitrust experts say, is a settlement. The broad principle, they say, would be an agreement not to discriminate in favour of its products over smaller competitors.

Regulators, antitrust experts say, will most likely push for more sweeping commitments on Google’s corporate conduct in the future to try to ensure that the company will not use its powerful position in Internet search to give it an unfair advantage in other businesses and stifle competition, which antitrust prohibits.

The FTC most famously settled with Microsoft in a broad antitrust case which threatened to break Microsoft up, resulted in more than 10 years of supervision, and prevented Microsoft from tying their browser to their operating system, now an accepted practice, and also prevented Microsoft from bundling their online services with their operating system, also now an accepted practice.

The agency will decide whether to sue Google by the end of the year.

Google said in a statement on Friday, “We are happy to answer any questions that regulators have about our business.”

Read more detail at the New York Times here.

Via MobilityDigest.com

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  • David

    About time! They have to do these to both Google and Apple!

    • Bugbog

      Google yes, Apple less so. Apple doesn’t need others to play with it. The very nature of Google, plus it’s dominant position makes its actions that more open to abuse.

      The funny (or sad) thing, dependant on point-of-view, is that Google already had Microsoft’s history to learn from, and avoid.

      Instead they chose to emulate, duplicate and improve upon! SMDH!!

  • http://94octane.com Beezer

    FINALLY! Break all those divisions up while you’re at it.

  • The__Truth__Hurts

    There was a huge debate on another site regarding this.

    Why is it that Microsoft and Google is getting slammed, yet Apple seems not to be effected at all?

    Is one more guilty then the other? Or is it that they know who to “pay off”?

    • http://fxfp.com/ Alex F.

      Because Apple does not have a monopoly market share in any of their markets.

  • Finaly

    Finaly!
    It is so unfair that MS was sued for antitrust by giving us a free Internet browser (IE) because people was too dumb to know how to uninstall it and Apple didn’t (Safari anyone?!).
    But the worst in anti-trust matter is Google’s search engine. By far. And they were never sued! I’m waiting for this a long time ago…
    If you ask me, Anti-Trust laws are senseless but if MS was sued for something so stupid (and search for it, UE is still not happy with Microsoft advertising other browsers for free in Windows 7) Google should also be!

    • Asgardi

      Yeah, when you go to google.com for the first time it should always ask if you would like to use bing or yahoo instead ;)