FTC Hires Experts Lawyer For Google Antitrust Investigation
The Wall Street Journal reported that the FTC hired Wilkinson Thursday night to lead the team that will decide whether the agency believes Google violated antitrust regulations.
FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch told the Journal that Wilkinson would “carry out the duties of a trial lawyer.”
Google is facing allegations “relating to a review by the FTC of Google’s business practices, including search and advertising,” accordion to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing by the company.
Google makes most of its money from search-related advertising, so the FTC is investigating its core business, which analysts believe could be a potentially serious risk to the company.
The Internet search giant has drawn scrutiny from U.S. and European regulators as it has grown over the past few years, including privacy concerns about how the company handles the data of those who use its sites.
The European Union is also heading up a probe into an antitrust complaint regarding Google, a decision that could come in the next few weeks. Google has said that it plans to cooperate with any regulatory body’s investigation.
The FTC will determine whether Google has manipulated its search results, making its competition less prone to appear at the top of a results page.
Now, the FTC is looking for Wilkinson to determine whether Google could be pinned down in the antitrust investigation.
Wilkinson was a lead prosecutor on the team that convicted Timothy McVeigh in connection with the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
The New York Times reported that several antitrust experts compared the hiring of Wilkinson to the government’s hiring of David A. Boies to represent it against Microsoft 14 years ago.
“Technology is transforming our society,” Wilkinson told The New York Times. “It affects people at every level. As a mother, I see it with my kids. As a professional, I see it affecting our work. And in society, it impacts privacy, competition, our interactions with other people – just about everything.”
According to comScore, Google controls about 66 percent of the search market in the U.S, while Microsoft’s Bing accounts for 15 percent, and Yahoo’s search engine 14 percent.
Competitors claim Google adjusts the algorithm that produces its search results to lower the chances of a link to a competitor or a potential competitor for its products.
However, Mark R. Patterson, a law professor at Fordham who focuses on antitrust law, told The New York Times that determining whether Google actually violates antitrust laws may be difficult to prove.
“It would be difficult to decide in many cases whether the results are exclusionary in a bad way or in a way that helps consumers,” Patterson told the Times.