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Google Avoids Antitrust Charges


The Federal Trade Commission has closed its long running anti-trust investigation of Google. While the search giant agreed to change some of its business practices, the FTC did not launch a formal anti-trust case against the company or impose any financial penalties.

Here's NPR's Steve Henn.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: For Google, the biggest threat to its business was that the FTC might decide bring an anti-trust case against the company or attempt to regulate the how Google displays its search results. So, Thursday's announcement by FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz, came as a huge relief.

JON LEIBOWITZ: Today's bi-partisan commission action brings to an end the commission's investigation of Google in a fashion calculated to bring maximum relief to American consumers in a timely way.

HENN: In its settlement with the FTC, Google agreed to scale back its patent wars against its rivals in the mobile phone industry. It promised to make it easier for small businesses to advertise on competing search engines. And Leibowitz says Google pledged to stop copying content from other websites without permission for use in its own local search results.

LEIBOWITZ: Now, some may believe that the commission should have done more in this case, perhaps because they are locked into hand-to-hand combat with Google around the world - or perhaps in a mistaken believe that criticizing us will influence the outcome in other jurisdictions.

HENN: Many of Google's competitors say the search giant unfairly favors its own services in its search results. So if you type in shoes - you'll see Google shopping results in the upper right.

LEIBOWITZ: If you type in something for shopping, I will bet you lunch what you will see on anything you hit shopping - it won't be the other sites - it will be the Google results.

HENN: Matt Reilly is a former FTC attorney who now represents FairSearch, an industry group critical of Google.

MATT REILLY: I can tell you if I were still at the commission, I would have recommended litigating this based on the evidence I have seen.

HENN: Reilly now hopes that regulators in Europe will step in and crack down on Google - even without the Federal Trade Commission's support.

Steve Henn, NPR News, Silicon Valley. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.