FTC Should Enter Settlement with Google Swiftly (Updated)

Update: The FTC has reached a fair settlement agreement with Google without going through the unnecessary time and expense of court.  “[Google] agreed to a legal settlement on patents that Jon Leibowitz, the commission chairman, called a “landmark enforcement action” that applies to huge high-tech markets like smartphones and tablet computers.”  It is pleasing to see efficiency and equity in any bureaucratic process, especially when it comes to dealing with one of the United State’s gem corporate entities.  This case is closed and justice has been served for all parties concerned.

Recent news reports have indicated the Federal Trade Commission and Google are close to announcing resolution settling a two year long antitrust investigation of the internet search engine’s digital marketing conduct.  Google was set to make enforceable commitments satisfying the results the complainants were looking for.  However, Google’s competitors have mounted serious push back on the agreement that may have caused the resolution to be delayed, potentially risking expensive and time consuming litigation.

The question is why?  FTC Chairman Leibowitz appears to have developed a smart, fast, and flexible approach to antitrust enforcement without getting bogged down in lengthy litigation.  Further, the FTC seemed to secure several important and substantive wins on patents, website opt-outs, advertiser portability, and search transparency.

According to press reports, it looks like the FTC secured certain enforceable commitments from Google.  If Google were to fail to live up to its public commitments, the FTC could then take punitive action against Google.   Google’s reported commitments on snippets (Yelp and TripAdvisor) and the AdWords API (Microsoft) are exactly what the complainants were seeking.

The FTC certainly should hold corporations accountable, and they have done just that by investigating Google’s actions for 18 months and finding an end result that was enforceable.  The fact that critics aren’t happy with the settlement shows that they weren’t really interested in results but rather tying Google up in a lengthy lawsuit.  It’s sad that Microsoft and other unnamed sources have tried to spin these results in the press as weak and overly friendly to Google.  Their powerful lobbyists shouldn’t be allowed to derail a balanced resolution.

There are plenty of real “bad guys” out there that frankly government doesn’t do a good job holding accountable.  It’s important that time and resources aren’t wasted going after the good guys who are more than willing to comply with equitable solutions.

At the end of the day, Google should be allowed to focus on innovation and growing their business, not wasting time and resources fighting unnecessary battles in court and dealing with the FTC when they are willing to make enforceable commitments.

It is very important that the FTC set a precedent of dealing quickly, efficiently and equitably in these matters by moving forward with this settlement with Google.  It couldn’t be any more important than when it comes to dealing with the tech sector where things change so quickly.  Going forward such an approach will be in the best interest of tax payers, not to mention for innovation in the marketplace.

Justin McAffee

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  • Miranda Jones
    December 21, 2012, 2:19 pm

    I use Google to grow my business as part of the toolbox available to me. Google delivers the information I need to my customers. It also works for my potential customers who use Google. But using Google is a choice. They can easily leave Google and take their data with them.

  • Miti Pula
    December 21, 2012, 2:22 pm

    It is hard to understand why the FTC is going after Google for alleged antitrust violations. The tech industry changes faster than the weather. Every day there seems to be a story popping up that talks about Apple or Facebook or Yahoo or Microsoft teaming up to go after Google or introducing a new product that competes directly with something Google does. Things happen at lightning speed in the tech sector of the economy, which — no insult intended — is not the speed that government and regulators work at.

  • Kelli Despain
    December 21, 2012, 2:24 pm

    As a small business owner we need the tech economy to continue and prosper and innovate; its growth is critical to the growth and success of local businesses like mine. And forcing a company like Google to spend millions of dollars defending itself from claims from competitors, not consumers, is taking those millions of dollars and potential job growth out of circulation from businesses and consumers across the country.


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