FTC hits back; Google investigation integrity questioned again

Lindsey Caldwell - Mar 25, 2015, 8:14 pm CDT
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FTC hits back; Google investigation integrity questioned again

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is coming out against statements made last week by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), as well as new claims that Google had used its political ties to the Obama administration to obtain a favorable outcome in the FTC investigation into alleged anti-trust and unfair internet search practices. The FTC states that such claims are unfounded and undermine the integrity of its investigation, while the WSJ is giving weight to the idea that anti-trust investigation might not have had much integrity on the FTC’s part at all.

As for Google’s White House connections, according to White House visitor logs, Google employees engaged in meetings with Obama’s senior officials over 230 times. Are our policy makers truly impartial in their Google anti-trust decision, or have they gone soft deal with their chums in Silicon Valley?

Last week, we found that a FTC internal report was “inadvertently disclosed” due to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The FTC claims the report in question was only a fraction of their, “voluminous record and extensive internal analysis,” and goes on to emphasize that its bipartisan group of commissioners found that there was no legal footing to take action against Google for its search practices. The commission then re-defended their previous statement, “Google’s search practices were not ‘on balance, demonstrably anticompetitive.'”

According to the wording of the FTC’s newest statement, it appears that the FTC called Google out on its unfair practices all the way back in 2013. In response, Google committed to alter its practices. Such a move by the FTC is akin to a child being caught red-handed and promising not to do it again.

The FTC officially, “regrets the inadvertent disclosure of confidential documents,” like the 161-page internal report that was uncovered. The committee regrets the disclosure, yet they claim to strive for transparency in their decision-making process– something doesn’t jive here. The FTC is ensuring that such an “inadvertent disclosure” will not occur again, which is good for the commission but bad for public awareness and transparency. It leaves us to wonder, even after the investigation has been closed, if we can really trust that Google’s search practices aren’t solely furthering its own cause.

VIA: Tech Crunch


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