Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been teetering on the edge lately in terms of its Google Search algorithms, and there have been reports that the Federal Trade Commission is closing in on filing an antitrust lawsuit against Google for tilting its results in favor of its own properties and services. But it seems like the lobbying efforts of Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is paying off in one way – a congressman is speaking out, threatening the FTC if its pursues such a lawsuit.
Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis – who himself has established several online businesses over the years, including ProFlowers.com – stated in a letter to the FTC that if the commission moves ahead with antitrust litigation against Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), he would be prepared to introduce legislation that would limit the FTC’s power in oversight of antitrust issues. “I believe that application of anti-trust against Google would be a woefully misguided step that would threaten the very integrity of our anti-trust system, and could ultimately lead to Congressional action resulting in a reduction in the ability of the FTC to enforce critical anti-trust protections in industries where markets are being distorted by monopolies or oligopolies,” Polis wrote in a letter sent to the FTC last week.
Polis wrote that the world of online search – though Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) reportedly owns a 65-percent market share – is already pretty competitive, citing that many people use Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) for searching for shopping items, iTunes are used to search music and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is used for social-network profiles. “To even discuss applying anti-trust in this kind of hyper-competitive environment defies all logic and the very underpinnings of anti-trust law itself,” Polis wrote.
The FTC is considering the suit to allege that Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) favors its own properties and services in its search results, pushing competiors lower5 on the page – even if those results are more relevant. Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) claims its search is perfectly legal.
“As a high-tech entrepreneur and someone who has actually used Google’s advertising tools to grow my businesses, I encourage the Commission to tread carefully and not undertake action that would compromise the important service provided by Google, reduce Google’s ability to rapidly innovate and improve its products, or make search engine results less useful for consumers or businesses,” Polis stated in his letter.
Should Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) be sued? Does this congressman have a point? Does the FTC need to to have its power curbed? If so, where would the oversight come from? Does this matter much to investors in Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) stock – like billionaire fund manager Julian Robertson of Tiger Management?