FTC Raises Pressure on Google in Antitrust Case

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The Fed Trade Commission is raising the pressure levels in its anti-trust conflict on Google with the commission leaders forming a lawsuit that may allow government to sue the company. The government’s raising quest of the soft giant is the most far-reaching investigation after the landmark Fed case against Microsoft in late 1990s.

The Issue

The organization’s main focus is whether or not Google manipulates search results, favoring its own services and products, making it really tough for rivals and other competitor products to appear on the top 10 search results. The Fed commission staffs formulated their recommendation and suggestion in a detailed draft memo with 100 pages and above, which has been shared with five Fed Trade Commissioners.

Memo Yet to be Finalized

They have not yet finalized the content in the memo; it can be edited even now and changes could be added, but those will be just fine tuning and will not affect or make any changes in conclusions appeared after an investigation, which started more than a year ago. Google in response said that they are happy to answer any queries that regulators have about their algorithm or business.  Fed Commission is also forming a dedicated team to take the soft giant to court. Last time, it hired a veteran litigator, Beth A Wilkinson to assist them in the case. Just a few weeks ago, it appointed an experienced economist, Richard Gilbert as a consultant. Gilbert is working for the University of California.

The memo created by the FTC staff doesn’t imply that government only can sue Google for antitrust infringements, but at least 3 votes from the five commissioners is also required.  Each step would provoke the company to make concessions to reach the final agreement before attending the court. The chairman of FTC, Jon Leibowitz said that the final decision on whether or not to litigate Google would happen by the end of this year.

Will Google Suffer the Same Fate as That of Microsoft?

Google’s case is very much similar to Microsoft issue in a basic way. Google has drawn complaints from antitrust regulators and rivals as it expanded its hand beyond its main product, search, and ads. Google has built its business aggressively to other fields, like smartphone software and online commerce. As the result, many of its rivals suffered and of course it benefitted Google, improving its service, products, as well as the economy. The American investigation is rising in tandem with a major antitrust inquiry in Europe and many authorities are seeking changes in Google’s operational policies to curb their monopoly on the Internet.

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