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Google given get out of jail free card

by on04 January 2013

US wimps out on Anti-Trust

If you thought that the US was going to stand up to one of its biggest IT companies on its anti-trust allegations you would have been sadly mistaken. While the EU is considering sanctions against the search engine Google, an antitrust investigation by US watchdogs is going to let the company off.

A U.S. Federal Trade Commission antitrust complaint against Google has been resolved by an agreement by the search engine to change some of its business practices, including allowing competitors access to some standardised technologies. Under the deal Google has also agreed to give online advertisers more flexibility to manage advertising campaigns on Google's AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said that Google has also agreed to stop some of its "most troubling" search practices, including scraping Web content from rivals and allegedly passing it off as its own. It will also allow competitors access to standards essential patents the company acquired along with its purchase of Motorola Mobility in 2012, the FTC said.While that might seem good it does seem a bit watered down, given that an investigation into Google has been taking place since 2011. But it seems that Google has powerful friends in the US Senate. Lawmakers have been leaning on the FTC to tread carefully which is code for do nothing.

Ben Gibson, MD at The Search Agency told Fudzilla that Google, though criticised for the Motorola business's over enthusiastic application of patent demands, has come through this very well. "The core criticism from rivals around bias in vertical search has been rejected, for now. This leaves the way open for Google to continue to advance more of its own vertical search products in the US. The EU may well look differently upon this, which may still impact developments here."

However the move is likely to miff Microsoft, Oracle and other members of the coalition, have accused Google of search "discrimination" by manipulating search results. There are rumours that they might take court action themselves in the absence of government protection.

Last modified on 04 January 2013
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