In early 2013, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ended an investigation into potential antitrust practices at Google. Now it has emerged that in doing so, the commissioners went against the recommendations of FTC officials. Their report – just revealed in the Wall Street Journal – claimed that Google’s conduct “has resulted – and will result – in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets” and recommended a lawsuit challenging three of the company’s practices
– scraping content from rival sites to improve its own search engine; restricting advertisers’ ability to run campaigns on other search engines; and restricting other websites that published its search results from working with rivals. Google headed off the threat of an antitrust lawsuit by making some voluntary changes, with its general counsel Kent Walker telling the WSJ now that the FTC commissioners “agreed that there was no need to take action on how we rank and display search results… Speculation about potential consumer harm turned out to be entirely wrong.” Some of those rivals may be unwilling to let the matter lie now, though.