Last week, reports were coming out, suggesting that FTC regulators are expected to end their investigation of Google’s search business without finding antitrust violations, and that the FTC would make its announcement by the end of the year. Google’s competitors were also said to be talking to the Department of Justice.
Today, Bloomberg is reporting that Google is “poised to offer voluntary concessions” that will end the probe “without any enforcement action”. Sara Forden reports:
Google, which has been under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, is preparing a letter promising not to copy content from rival websites without permission and to allow advertisers to compare data from ad campaigns with their performance on other Internet search engines, one of the people said yesterday. That will bring the antitrust investigation to a close without a lawsuit or settlement, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public.
The only statement Google has been giving is the classic, “We continue to work cooperatively with the Federal Trade Commission and are happy to answer any questions they may have.”
The Wall Street Journal has also reported that The FTC could end its investigation “as soon as this week”.
The New York times has an interesting story how about two lawyers who “helped build the case” against Microsoft in the historic antitrust suit against that tech giant, find themselves on opposite sides of the Google case. One says it’s like watching “instant replay” of the Microsoft case, while the other finds that Google is “pro-competitive,” has “consistently enhanced consumer welfare by increasing the services available to consumers,” and that (like Google often says) competition is “just a click away”.
Google may be getting off quite lightly from this whole ordeal here in the states, compared to the actions competitors would like to see brought against the company. Of course, Google still has the European Commission to deal with, and that situation should be close to winding down as well. It will be interesting to see how similar the outcome is.