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Consumer Watchdog Calls On FTC To Re-Open Its Google Investigation

Asks Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee To Hold Hearing On How Google Escaped Prosecution
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John M. Simpson

WASHINGTON – Consumer Watchdog today called on the Federal Trade Commission to re-open its antitrust investigation of Google and urged the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee to hold a hearing probing how the Internet giant escaped prosecution for its anticompetitive practices.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group acted in response to a 2012 report from the FTC’s Bureau of Competition that recommended to the Commission that Google be prosecuted. The report was revealed by the Wall Street Journal, which got part of the 160-page document when the FTC mistakenly released it in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the newspaper said.

The 160-page critique concluded that Google’s “conduct has resulted—and will result—in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

“It is unfathomable that the FTC declined to sue the Internet giant, in the face of pervasive and persuasive evidence from its expert staff,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “The only way the FTC can redeem itself and regain public trust is to re-open the case.  Indeed, Google’s anticompetitive and abusive practices of favoring its own services in search results continue.”

Consumer Watchdog called on Chairman Sen. Michael S. Lee (R-UT) and Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to hold a Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing investigating how Google managed to dodge antitrust prosecution by the FTC.

“Google has one of the biggest lobbying operations in Washington and is executives have close ties to the Obama Administration,” said Simpson. “Could those connections have helped the Internet giant get a free pass back in 2013?”

Consumer Watchdog said the FTC should immediately release the staff report from the Bureau of Competition. There was also reportedly a Google staff report from the FTC’s Bureau of Economics.  It should be made public as well, Consumer Watchdog said.

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