Some staff at the Federal Trade Commission wanted to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Google in 2012, according to documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper reported on Thursday that FTC staff found evidence that Google leveraged its dominance in search to harm other companies. The Journal said it obtained a portion of an FTC staff report after the agency mistakenly released it in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
FTC staff reportedly wanted to sue over three alleged practices by Google, including taking content from Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon. The search giant allegedly did so in order to boost its own sites. The FTC staff report also reveals that Google estimated its market share as between 69% and 84% during the investigation.
In January of 2013 the FTC closed its investigation into Google without bringing an enforcement action. But former chairman Jon Leibowitz said at the time that Google had taken steps to alleviate concern over "troubling allegations" that it misappropriated rivals' content.
"Google allegedly 'scraped' the user-generated reviews of local restaurants displayed on Yelp, and led consumers to believe that these reviews were its own. When some of these Web sites complained to Google about this practice, Google allegedly threatened to remove them entirely from Google’s search results," Leibowitz stated.
To resolve concern about those allegations, Google promised to allow companies to opt out of appearing in the vertical search engines -- like Google Local -- but still show up in the general search results.