A few reflections on the FTC’s decision on Google

David Evans, Jan 08, 2013


The FTC’s 5-0 decision to drop its investigation into Google’s search-related practices is breathtaking. A number of companies had charged that Google was engaging in unfair competition by cooking its search results. Yet the Commission staff concluded that there was no significant evidence to support allegations that the “company biased its search to hurt competition” or that consumers, rather than competitors, were harmed. Three Democratic and two Republican FTC Commissioners, none of whom have been particularly bashful about pursuing companies they believe have violated the antitrust laws, supported that conclusion. For those who know the FTC Commissioners and staff, it is a bit hard to give credence to the hysterical complaints by some of Google’s antagonists that the FTC fumbled the investigation.

There’s not much more to say at least on the search case in the US for now. We’ll have to wait to see what the EU concludes. So I’d like to reflect at bit on some of the broader questions this decision raises.

Should antitrust give the information-technology sector a rest?

Antitrust enforcers in the US, EU, and other parts of the world have invested a great deal of effort at going after a succession of information-technology companies beginning with IBM, continuing with Microsoft, and most recently with Google. Maybe some day the information-technology revolution will settle down; the pace of innovation will slow; and we’ll really n


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