Congressman Requests FTC Briefing In Relation To Google Case

    December 11, 2012
    Chris Crum

The Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), has sent a letter to the FTC requesting the commission outline how it views its authority to regulate Google’s business practices with regards to competition.

Google, as you may know, is waiting for the FTC to reach a decision on whether or not to pursue an antitrust lawsuit.

The Hill shares Issa’s letter:

Issa demands briefing on FTC's power

As The Hill explains, the FTC has argued that it has the authority to bring a “pure section 5” suit against Google, which lets it sue for anti-competitive practices without having to prove harm to consumers. The FTC has never won such a case, which is why former Chairman William Kovacic has expressed doubt about that one would succeed here.

The topic also came up in a rare interview with Larry Page by Fortune Magazine.

Fortune asked Page if Google should have done things differently in terms of how competitors talk about Google showcasing its own services in search results “at their expense”. Here is how he answered:

The way we think about it is that our customer is our end-user. People are really trying to get some information and get honest, accurate, well-ranked information from us. That’s our job one. I think that there are companies that do various kinds of specialized things, that they’re doing a part of what we do. We see the opportunity to build amazing products that are more than any of those parts. So one of my favorite examples I like to give is if you’re vacation planning. It would be really nice to have a system that could basically vacation plan for you. It would know your preferences, it would know the weather, it would know the prices of airline tickets, the hotel prices, understand logistics, combine all those things into one experience. And that’s kind of how we think about search.

You began by saying “your competitors.” I don’t think the companies that are complaining about various components of what we do are trying to do that. So again, I don’t kind of think about it that way.

I think in general we’ve tried to be very inclusive of people’s data. Obviously when you search in Google you get all kinds of different search engines and travel providers and everything else. We’re doing our best to make sure those things are represented well. I think for us our strength comes from working with everybody, but we also need to make sure we’re serving our end users with a really great experience and that we provide that detailed information to people. Sometimes those things will be complicated.

Google Executive Chairman said last week that he remains optimistic about the situation, but said “it’s time for them to sort of move to one resolution or another.”

In other words, let’s get on with it already.