Technology

Groups Applaud, Criticize Google Antitrust Settlement

While some trade groups have favored the antitrust settlement, one major advocacy group backed by some associations plans to keep fighting.

Last week, Google won a big victory at the hands of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

While it made some concessions, ultimately it didn’t have to budge on the big one, which would have changed the DNA of its search engine.

Today, they made clear that the best way to protect America’s consumers was for the FTC to do effectively nothing.

More details on the case and the major players:

The settlement: On Thursday, Google settled a major antitrust probe it faced from the FTC. The company agreed to openly license hundreds of patents (largely related to its Android mobile platform) to competitors, remove errant search listings on request, and modify its ad platform to work better with competitors. But the brunt of the complaint, regarding its search engine, was thrown out. While the FTC found that the company favored its own offerings occasionally, there was not enough evidence to prompt further action.

The hard work at hand: Google’s relative slap on the wrist wasn’t arrived at lightly, according to The New York Times, which reports that the FTC pored over 9 million documents and conducted numerous interviews with Google executives before concluding that that the company worked within the confines of the law. Google was quick to declare victory: “The conclusion is clear: Google’s services are good for users and good for competition,” the company’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, noted in a blog post.

A key supporter: One voice speaking in favor of the settlement is the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which considers the settlement a victory for long-term innovation. “Today, they made clear that the best way to protect America’s consumers was for the FTC to do effectively nothing,” said Santa Clara University School of Law’s Eric Goldman, speaking at a news conference set up by CCIA, according to ComputerWorld.

Google’s biggest critic: An advocacy group that had a lot riding on the FTC’s decision, FairSearch.org, was quick to criticize the settlement, saying the battle isn’t over. “The FTC’s inaction on the core question of search bias will only embolden Google to act more aggressively to misuse its monopoly power to harm other innovators,” the group claimed in a statement. FairSearch counts major tech companies such as Microsoft, Nokia, and TripAdvisor among its members, along with the the Travel Tech Association. The group also includes some smaller companies—including Foundem and Twenga—that have received attention in recent years due to their legal battles with Google.

Will the Google antitrust settlement prove fruitful or dangerous for the long-term future of the tech industry? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

(caccamo/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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