FTC report recommended suing Google for antitrust practices

It was two years ago when Google agreed to make minor alterations to its business practices, but continued to argue that the report showed little wrongdoing. The FTC argued that Google employed anticompetitive tactics and abused its monopoly power in ways that harmed Internet users.

This latest FTC report, which was meant to be kept under lock and key but was inadvertently released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, concluded that Google's practices were indeed harming both the consumer and rival companies. It details patent exploitation through the acquisition of Motorola and the manipulation of search engine results to favor its own sites.

"On one issue—whether Google used anticompetitive tactics for its search engine—the competition staff recommended against a lawsuit, although it said Google's actions resulted in "significant harm" to rivals. In three other areas, the report found evidence the company used its monopoly behavior to help its own business and hurt its rivals."

It was reported that Google was breaking antitrust law by restricting websites that publish search results from also working with rival search engines, such as Bing by Microsoft. The search giant also illegally pulled data from rival web properties to improve its own rankings.

"On the most important issue, that of Google's prized search engine, the FTC report said Google altered it to benefit its own services at the expense of rivals. The report said Google adopted a strategy of demoting, or refusing to display, links to certain vertical websites in highly commercial categories."

So while it may appear as though Google managed to get away with the FTC recommending only some minor points in the final proceedings, this document shows just how close the call was. The company currently finds itself in the midst of the EU Commission's investigation, which is currently deciding on how to proceed.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Rich Edmonds