Google Scores Big Win, As FTC Clears Company Over Search Bias Claims

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Google Scores Big Win, As FTC Clears Company Over Search Bias Claims

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) will not be compelled to make notable modifications to the way it does business. This comes at the wake of a two year investigation by the U.S Federal Trade Commission. These investigations had initially brewed speculation that the company would have to make major changes in its operations. The FTC said today that instead of making major changes, Google signed off to two settlements. It has agreed to stop pulling down content from competitors and also promised to give competitors more control over their advertisements. The company also agreed to a consent agreement over licensing patents.

The last two years were marked by heated investigation over Google’s alleged bias toward its own properties. The complaints, which started in Europe and later spread out to the U.S, span across a wide range of allegations like manipulating search results, scraping vertical search engine information, necessitating exclusiveness and bottlenecking portability in search advertising.

Interestingly, the FTC cleared Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) of the search bias claims on a unanimous vote, citing that “the evidence does not support a claim that Google’s prominent display of its own content on its general search page was undertaken without legitimate justification.”

FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz, revealed that the final vote was preceded by an exhaustive review of the 9 million documents tied to the case. In addition, he noted that the commission conducted many interviews in an attempt to get more insight on the matter. Leibowitz also added that the change in the look and feel of Google’s search results to exclaim its own products was primarily geared toward improving user experience.

As expected, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) concurred with the FTC’s take on the matter. This was particularly evident in a blog post penned by its  Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, the Google employee was noted to have said, “the conclusion is clear: Google’s services are good for users and good for competition.”

In addition to looking into the conventional search service provided by Google, the FTC went the extra mile and delved into other aspects like search on Android, alongside other mobile platforms. In addition, the FTC looked at the recent weighing issue of how to handle patents that deal with fundamental shared technologies for smartphones.

While many competitors in the tech space were involved in the investigations, notable big wigs like Microsoft, TripAdvisor and Yelp were noted to be in the forefront.

Google still not out of the woods

The wrapping up of the FTC anti-trust probe confirms the validity of an anonymous source familiar with the matter who, in mid December, revealed that the probe was drawing to an end. Although the FTC has managed to come to a conclusion, settlement talks are still open in Europe, suggesting that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is still not out of the woods.

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