Consumer Watchdog Welcomes Senate Probe of FTC’s Google Antitrust Investigation

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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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John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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