Several media outlets are reporting that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is getting closer to filing an antitrust case against Google. Top FTC officials reportedly believe that Google abused its leading position in the search market to favor its own products over those from other companies.
According to a Reuters report by Diane Bartz, “The majority of top decision-makers at the Federal Trade Commission believe that an antitrust case should be brought against Google Inc, meaning the search giant could soon be headed into tough negotiations, three people familiar with the matter said. Four of the FTC commissioners have become convinced after more than a year of investigation that Google illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals, while one commissioner is skeptical, the sources said.”
“U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigators are circulating an internal draft memo that recommends suing Google Inc. (GOOG) for abusing its dominance of Internet search in violation of antitrust laws, three people familiar with the matter” told Bloomberg’s Sara Forden and Jeff Bliss. “The more than 100-page memo has been distributed to the agency’s five commissioners, who will decide whether to sue, two of the people said. A majority of commissioners, including FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, have expressed concerns internally about Google’s practices, and are deciding how to proceed, two of the people said.”
PCMag’s David Murphy explained, “The issue at hand stems from allegations that Google artificially punishes competitors’ search results in its own listings, causing audiences to be more likely to flock to Google’s own products – like, say, Google-based reviews of local businesses instead of a site like Yelp. In fact, Yelp and Nextag are two companies that have openly complained about Google’s alleged setup in testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September of last year.”
The New York Times’ Steve Lohr observed, “The government’s escalating pursuit of Google is the most far-reaching antitrust investigation of a corporation since the landmark federal case against Microsoft in the late 1990s.”