December 19, 2012 Leave a comment
For the past two years the Federal Trade Commission has investigated the possibly anti-competitive actions of mega-company Google. Now, the investigation may be coming to a close as the FTC issued its final ultimatum: Google must produce a detailed proposal listing voluntary concessions the company will make to resolve issues over its search engine practices.
Several competitors, the most infamous of which is Microsoft but also including Yelp and TripAdvisor, have alleged that Google searches prioritize searches not necessarily by relevance but to promote their own products. Furthermore, competitors are concerned over potential copyright infringements of Google’s “snippets” which show with preliminary results. Microsoft has launched the “Scroogled” campaign to educate online users on the anti-trust battle and to ultimately persuade the audience to use Bing’s search engine honesty.
From Google’s point of view, spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker “the focus of Google is on Google and the positive impact our industry has on society, not competition”. They state that the order of search results is showcasing the best product available, which may put their own products over Bing or other rivals. They also state that regardless of the numberless ranking on the page, every site is equally one click away. Political proponents of Google, including several Democratic Senators have been outspoken on the issues, reminding the FTC that their job is not to protect competition but rather to aid consumers.
As Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon stated, it would be “troubling if the FTC sought to expand the use of its authority to target a company for simply being popular rather than engaging in unfair or deceptive practices that harm consumers.”
A similar anti-trust case is ongoing in Europe, which has offered Google comparable terms to end the need for a law suit. If Google’s proposal does not fit federal and EU expectations, the company could be charged up to 10% of the company’s value, or about $4 billion. Only time will tell the outcome of this case for Google, its competitors, and consumers worldwide.
Posted by: Sophia Higgins