Records Show FTC Botched Google Antitrust Investigation

March 16, 2021

The Federal Trade Commission's 2013 failure to sue Google for antitrust violations went against the advice of FTC staff and disregarded evidence of Google's growing market dominance, according to records obtained by Politico. FTC antitrust attorneys advised the Commission to bring suit against Google to block future deals with mobile companies making Google an exclusive search provider. But the Commission rejected that recommendation on the view that mobile search was only a small part of the search market, a conclusion that quickly proved outdated. The records published by Politico also reveal that Amazon and Facebook—both of which are now facing their own antitrust proceedings—privately pushed the FTC to take enforcement action against Google. Google's anticompetitive practices in search and targeted advertising are the basis of two antitrust lawsuits brought by the Department of Justice and state attorneys general last year. On Monday, Texas announced that it would broaden its lawsuit to cover Google's planned replacement for third-party cookies—so-called "FLoCs"—which would do little to protect privacy but further consolidate Google's market power. EPIC has long targeted anticompetitive practices by Google, including its acquisition of DoubleClick and bias in YouTube search rankings. EPIC also helped bring about the FTC's 2011 order establishing privacy safeguards for Google users and sued when Google violated that order.

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