FTC Closed Antitrust Case Against Google Despite Negative Staff Report

Google abused its monopoly power and harmed Internet users and competitors using anticompetitive tactics for its search engine back in 2012, according to experts at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but documents that surfaced this week show something different.

This week, The Wall Street Journalrevealed that FTC investigators did conclude that Google abused its monopoly power, according to the 160-page critique that was meant to remain private. The findings, disclosed in an open-records request, show that FTC staff found proof that Google used anticompetitive tactics, hurting competitors such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.

The findings stand in contrast to the conclusion of the FTC's commissioners, who voted in early 2013, ending the investigation with a slap on the wrist after Google agreed to some voluntary changes to its practices.



The document could prompt new complaints from Google competitors that allege the company still engages in anticompetitive behavior -- and renewed focus by antitrust authorities in Europe, pursuing their own review into Google, reports the Journal.

"Data included in the report suggest Google was more dominant in the U.S. Internet search market than was widely believed," reports the journal. "The company estimated its market share at between 69% and 84% during a period when research firm comScore put it at 65%. "'From an antitrust perspective, I’m happy to see [comScore] underestimate our share,'" the report quoted Google Chief Economist Hal Varian as saying, without specifying the context.

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