Consumer Watchdog Calls On FTC To Re-Open Its Google Investigation; Asks Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee To Hold Hearing On How Google Escaped Prosecution

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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Published by John M. Simpson

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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