FTC Launches Antitrust Investigation Of Google

BY CCIA Staff
June 24, 2011

The announcement that the FTC is seeking additional information from Google confirms various news reports that it is initiating an antitrust investigation.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has been the leading technology industry advocate for strong yet balanced competition policy since its founding nearly 40 years ago. Historic antitrust rulings against IBM and AT&T laid the foundation for much of our industry and more recent proceedings against Microsoft, Intel and others have protected the climate of innovation the United States enjoys today.

The following statement can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“There have been a number of complaints by interested competitors of Google, and since fair government scrutiny is necessary for good competition policy we support an FTC investigation to ensure compliance with the antitrust laws. We have not yet seen the type of credible evidence that would support a charge of abuse of market power, so the investigation should be helpful in identifying actual abuse or, as Google claims, in dispelling accusations designed to harass or distract the company as it competes.

“An investigation should be targeted and focused on areas where evidence does exist to support or refute the allegations made by competitors. Longtime critics of antitrust laws often seek to undermine the credibility of enforcers by suggesting they overreach. Here, we are confident that the FTC will stay focused, investigate thoroughly, yet not engage in a fishing expedition.

“We have seen a number of companies in our industry obtain rapid market share, and watched as some, but not all, withered with time or because of competition.  We have consistently refrained from suggesting regulatory interference unless there is serious abuse and substantial “lock in”, and then we have urged vigorous action.

“Big doesn’t automatically equate with bad. So far, it appears that Google is big enough to change the game for dominant players. But being big and disruptive is different from be being dominant and abusive. We trust that government regulators will distinguish between solid evidence and speculative or subjective data, and will analyze the motives and credibility of all interested parties.  We have some general concern that increasingly, we’re seeing antitrust charges manufactured and wielded as a cudgel by companies hoping to find any way to hurt successful competitors. Their motives have less to do with the public interest than with a drive to protect their own entrenched business models, bloated margins and legacy revenue streams.

“CCIA and others who value innovation want a market where the best, most innovative ideas –including disruptive and game-changing technologies — can make it out of the garage, dorm room or boardroom and into the marketplace without being squashed by old, established companies trying maintain their market share at the expensive of the nation’s bottom line.”

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