Google not guilty of bias, says FTC anti-trust probe #winning

And with one bound, the ad broker was free. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been cleared by the FTC of search result bias. The Federal Trade Commission investigators unanimously said that Google did not illegally bias its search results nor damage competition.

Google FTC winning

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers pick over the bones of the case.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Sharon Gaudin calls it, "the anti-trust equivalent of a good talking-to":

This afternoon, the [FTC] announced that it had reached an agreement...after a lengthy antitrust probe. ... Google agreed to change some of its business practices, to resolve...competitive "concerns." ...the settlement does not come with any kind of monetary fine.

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One question remains, though. ... The EC has been running an investigation since 2010 [into] allegations that the company abused its heavily dominant position.  MORE

Lawrence Latif latterly adds:

Google's industry rivals had been baying for its blood. ... [It] agree[d] to offer greater advertising flexibility, commit to...FRAND licensing of certain patents and refrain from "misappropriating online content." ... The FTC said...the evidence it obtained did not show that Google's actions were illegal.

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[It] avoided any blowback from allegations of web search results bias. ... The FTC concluded that the firm's actions "could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved...the experience of its users."  MORE

Google's David Drummond beats the #winning drum:

The conclusion is clear: Google’s services are good for users and good for competition. ...truly great search is all about turning your needs into actions in the blink of an eye.

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[But] we’ve always been open to improvements that would create a better experience. ... We’ve always accepted that with success comes regulatory scrutiny. ... So we head into 2013 excited about our ability to innovate for the benefit of users.  MORE

Yet Jeff John Roberts finds a crumb of comfort for the Google-haters:

The FTC did say that Google misbehaved by using standards-essential patents...as a weapon. Google responded by saying it won’t do that anymore.

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Microsoft and others had hoped the government would impose some sort of “search neutrality”...but that won’t happen now. ... Google won’t have to reveal any of the “secret sauce” that it uses to order the search results. ... [It] did, however, make a voluntary pledge... remove snippets from Yelp reviews and other such sites if the company...asks them to.

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The biggest loser is Microsoft, which funded a long-running cloak-and-dagger lobbying campaign. ... The FTC is also a loser because it ran a high profile two-year investigation but came up dry.

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The European Commission suggested in December it will come down harder. ...the outcome is likely to be a “commitment decision” in which Google promises to behave a certain way.  MORE

But Prof. James Grimmelmann is astounded:

Out of the four serious issues on the table, Google walks away cleanly on one...the FTC gets a clear victory on one...and Google makes mushy-mouthed “commitments” on the remaining two. ... The mood over at the Googleplex has to be pretty good right now.

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The center of...the complaints against Google for the past four years, has been...the accusation that Google deliberately slants its search results to favor its own sites. ...the FTC by a 5-0 vote decided not to take any action. ... [It's] a giant middle finger [to] Google critics.

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But today’s settlement...doesn’t say...“we didn’t find a smoking gun,” or “Google is doing something bad but not something the FTC can prevent.” [It] says, “We looked, and what Google is doing is good.” ... No, the end result of the FTC investigation is a prominent public vindication for Google.

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This is one of the biggest lobbying backfires I have ever seen.  MORE
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