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FTC unsure if it has enough evidence against Google in antitrust case

Could lead to damaging allegations going away
Thu Nov 22 2012, 12:58
Google logo (Robert Scoble Flickr)

ADVERTISING BROKER Google is set to avoid the most potentially damaging antitrust allegations in the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation.

The FTC won a battle against the US Department of Justice to look into allegations that Google engages in anti-competitive behaviour in the way it ranks and displays internet search results.

Now Bloomberg reports that the FTC is not sure whether there is enough evidence against Google to sanction it over allegations that the internet search engine favours its own services over others when returning search results.

Allegations against Google were made by several firms including Kayak and Nextag. However the FTC is looking into whether the benefits of Google's Pagerank algorithm outweigh any negative business effects suffered by other firms.

The FTC had previously told Google to propose solutions for its antitrust concerns or face a lawsuit. Google is alleged to have exclusive agreements with publishers to provide search services and there are allegations that it misuses patents to try to block rival smartphone makers from entering the smartphone market.

According to Bloomberg's sources the FTC is also taking a serious look at complaints that Google stole customer reviews from other websites. However the FTC's uncertainty over search results suggests that Google is likely to dodge the most serious antitrust allegations.

Google argues that its Pagerank algorithm helps users find the most relevant answer to their queries. Ultimately, Google's users decide whether this is true or not based on the perceived quality of results that it returns, whether they are from one of Google's services or affiliates or are those of a competitor.

After all, Microsoft's Bing isn't too far away, if Google's internet search users are dissatisfied and want a change. µ


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