FTC Asked To Widen Probe Of Google Search Practices
December 20, 2011

FTC Asked To Widen Probe Of Google Search Practices

Two US senators on Monday urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to deepen the investigation of Google for alleged antitrust violations relating to Google listing its own websites and products first in web searches, reports Nancy Gohring for IDG News.

“While we take no position on the ultimate legality of Google´s practices under the antitrust laws and the FTC Act, we believe these concerns warrant a thorough investigation by the FTC,” the two senators wrote in a letter to the agency.

Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, and Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary antitrust committee, reiterated concerns they brought up in a September hearing.

That hearing, involving Google´s Eric Schmidt, including accusations that Google favors its own products in search results and repurposes data from rivals like Yelp without permission.

A timely response was not forthcoming from the search giant but during September´s hearing, Schmidt denied the accusations, Chloe Albanesius reports for PC Mag.

“We use data sources that are our own because we can´t engineer it any other way,” Schmidt said. “I disagree with the characterization that somehow we were discriminating against [competitors].”

“I should mention that all our competitors have similar approaches and similar products to maps, places, and other things,” Schmidt claimed.

At that hearing, complaints were heard from the chief executives of local review site Yelp and online product comparison site Nextag, The Los Angeles Times is reporting. The two companies claim that Google dominates search results at the expense of smaller competitors.

Asked by Senator Lee whether Google “cooked” its search results on three product-comparison websites to favor Google Shopping results, Schmidt responded, “Senator “¦ I can assure you we have not cooked anything.”

Schmidt urged the committee, in September, to “help us ensure that the Federal Trade Commission´s inquiry remains a focused and fair process, so that we can continue creating jobs and building products that delight our users.” After the hearing, several senators had a few more questions for Schmidt, which they submitted to him in writing.

The Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee released Schmidt´s responses to those queries in November, which again focused on Google´s competitiveness, Android operating system, and more. Schmidt insisted that Google was not dominant in search or mobile.


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