Google emerges from FTC antitrust probe largely unscathed

The agency unanimously decided not to take action against the company for its alleged manipulation of search results

On Jan. 3, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the culmination of its antitrust investigation into three facets of Google Inc.’s business practices: online advertising, patents and search algorithms. The 19-month investigation was lengthy and extensive—the FTC held several hearings with Google executives, conducted empirical analyses of Google’s methods and examined more than 9 million pages of documents.

Google will have to make some changes, but overall the investigation landed on its side. On Google’s official blog, Chief Legal Officer David Drummond essentially declared victory: “The conclusion is clear: Google’s services are good for users and good for competition.”

Instead, Google treated the investigation as an opportunity to rebut the allegations of its adversaries and to make sure the FTC understood not only the complexity of the subject matter under investigation, but also the company’s historical reasons for taking the actions it did.

In the end, it appears the evidence fell in Google’s favor, but it had to have helped that the key facts of the case were presented to the FTC from Google’s viewpoint and in the context of Google’s metrics.

Associate Editor

Melissa Maleske

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