Key officials at the Federal Trade Commission wanted to sue Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) after it emerged the search giant had used anticompetitive tactics in its operations that posed great harm to consumers and innovation. The Wall Street Journal reports that key staff from the Bureau of Competition wanted to bring a lawsuit that would have challenged the search giant three practices.
Had the lawsuit come to fruition, it could have been one of the highest profile antitrust cases since Microsoft was sued in the 1990’s by the Department of Justice. In contrast to key staff conclusion, the FTC commissioners voted unanimously in 2013 to end investigations into Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s practices, the company having agreed to change some of its practices
The Commissioners verdict however raised some concerns as it is unusual for staff recommendations to be overruled in instances of such serious matters. The then chairman, Jon Leibowitz, in defense of the commissioners ruling, argued that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) promise to voluntarily change its practices was better off for customers compared to other options at hand.
The competition staff had found evidence that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) used a monopoly behavior to help its own business and hurt rival. The report essentially overrules Google remarks that the FTC never found evidence of any wrongdoing with regards to its search practices.
Google was also found to have broken antitrust laws by placing restrictions on websites that worked with its rivals. The commission made no mention of this issue in the final report or sought an assurance from the company that it will to curb the practice. The search giant is also accused of violating antitrust laws by restricting advertiser’s ability to use data garnered from Google ad campaigns in advertising in rival platforms.
The FTC staff found out that that the conduct helped maintain, preserve and enhance Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s monopoly position in search and advertising business, in violation of the law.
The company is also accused of taking content from rival websites such as Yelp Inc (NYSE:YELP) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to improve its own websites. When the competitors asked it to stop taking their content, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is alleged to have threatened to remove them from its search engine.
The findings could, however, resurrect complaints from some of the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) competitors such as Yelp, who still believe the search giant engages in anti-competitive behavior. The search giant could also resurrect interest from antitrust authorities in Europe, who are also pursuing their own look into its practices.
Revealed documents on the investigations show that the FTC had direct evidence linking Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) to intentional search bias. Data in the reports suggest that Google might have been more dominant in the search business in the U.S than it was widely believed.
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