Consumer Watchdog Welcomes Senate Probe of FTC’s Google Antitrust Investigation; Public Interest Group Called For Inquiry After Newspaper Published Key Documents

WASHINGTON – Consumer Watchdog today welcomed plans by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) to examine the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust investigation of Google that was closed in 2013 without a lawsuit.

After the Wall Street Journal earlier this month published portions of a 2012 FTC report recommending the Commission prosecute Google, Consumer Watchdog urged Chairman Lee and Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to hold a Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing to examine how Google managed to dodge antitrust prosecution.

“Google has one of the biggest lobbying operations in Washington and its executives have close ties to the Obama Administration,” said Simpson. “Sen. Lee’s inquiry could show whether those connections helped the Internet giant get a free pass back in 2013.”

Consumer Watchdog urged Sen. Lee to hold a full fledged public hearing on the issue.  The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group also called on the FTC to release the complete report of the Bureau of Competition recommending prosecution, as well as another report from the Commission’s Bureau of Economics.

The FTC report was revealed by the Wall Street Journal, which got part of the 160-page document when the Commission mistakenly released it in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the newspaper said.

The staff 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.

The Competition Bureau called on the FTC to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google on three of the four issues under review, the Wall Street Journal reported. It was one of several recommendations prepared by divisions within the Commission. The FTC’s Bureau of Economics recommended against a lawsuit, the newspaper said.

“Given the Internet giant’s connections and power, it’s essential we get to the bottom of what happened and why,” said Simpson.  “Unless there is something to hide, all involved should benefit from a full airing of details and public scrutiny in this important case.”

Read Consumer Watchdog’s March 20 news release calling for a Senate Antitrust investigation here:


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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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