FTC Investigators Called Google Anti-Competitive. Then They Learned to Get …

When it comes to new stuff, though, that’s about it. University of Maryland professor and Internet law expert James Grimmelmann, author of “The Google Dilemma,” found little surprising in the report: “It focused on exactly the same issues—search bias, vertical search, and ad campaign portability—that were widely debated in public during the investigation.” Broadly speaking, the remaining three issues line up with what the FTC publicly reported about its settlement with Google in January 2013, and, indeed, what the Journal itself reported on the settlement at the time. The rhetoric is harsher, but the substance is basically the same. Google made concessions to the FTC on two issues. First, it allowed advertisers to optimize campaigns across multiple ad networks simultaneously by removing restrictions on the use of its AdWords API. Second, Google allowed websites to opt out of being used in Google’s vertical offerings such as Google News and Google Flights. A company like Yelp originally had no choice but to let Google use its data in those verticals; its only other option was to not be included in Google search results at all. The FTC objected to this “all-or-nothing choice” and forced Google to allow Yelp to pull its data from Google’s verticals without penalty. This is, indeed, precisely the remedy recommended by the staff report.

Article source: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2015/03/google_ftc_report_here_s_why_the_government_and_the_company_agreed_to_a.html

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