Google Abused Its Power, FTC Staff Found

According to a recently unearthed 160-page report, officials at the Federal Trade Commission concluded in 2012 that Google used anti-competitive tactics and abused its monopoly power in ways that harmed Internet users and competing companies, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The FTC report, done by the agency's bureau of competition, recommended legal action challenging three Google practices. A lawsuit could have resulted in one of the highest-profile antitrust cases since the Justice Department sued Microsoft in the 1990s. FTC commissioners voted unanimously in early 2013 to end the investigation after Google agreed to voluntarily change its practices.

The critique was supposed to remain private but was inadvertently disclosed in an open-records request.

More Dominant

As to whether Google used anti-competitive tactics for its search engine, the FTCEUs competition staff recommended against a lawsuit, although it said GoogleEUs actions resulted in significant harm to rivals. In three other areas, the report found evidence the company used its monopoly behavior to help its own business and hurt its rivals. The report runs counter to GoogleEUs contention that the FTC had found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Embedded in the report and its footnotes are several previously unknown details about GoogleEUs business, many of which come from senior officials such as Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, former executive Marissa Mayer and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Data in the report demonstrate Google might have been more dominant in the U.S. Internet search market than was previously thought. The company estimated its market share at between 69 percent and 84 percent during a period when research firm comScore put it at 65 percent.

Google issued a statement in response to the report being made public.

"Speculation about potential consumer and competitor harm turned out to be entirely wrong," said Kent Walker, GoogleEUs general counsel, in the statement. "Since the investigation closed...

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