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Media Round-up: Senators Urge FTC To Conduct A Thorough Investigation of Google's Business Practices

Senators Kohl (D-WI) and Lee (R-UT) issued a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz Monday expressing their concerns about Google’s anticompetitive business practices. The Senators are calling for a “thorough investigation.” In their letter they said, “a key question is whether Google is using its market power to steer users to its own web products or secondary services and discriminating against other websites with which it competes.”

Below are some of the highlights from recent media coverage:

“Google’s high-stakes antitrust hearing in September seems to have raised more questions than it answered — and lawmakers are asking regulators to take a closer look at the search giant’s operations.” –Huffington Post, 12/19/11

“The news is that the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Antitrust Subcommittee put it in writing and asked for action.  When two senators not only agree on an issue but are willing to do something about it, the seismic tremors can be felt from the halls of the FTC right on up to Google’s executive suites.”   –Mark Corallo, former Press Secretary and then Public Affairs Director for the U.S. Department of Justice from 2002-2005, 12/19/11

“It has been widely reported that the FTC already is probing Google’s search engine practices, but the letter is noteworthy for its bipartisan support for such an investigation and its citing of suggested areas worth looking into.” –Tnooz, 12/19/11

“It seems likely that the FTC will get involved. Today’s letter seems to be a formality that opens the door for it to do just that.” –SearchEngineLand, 12/19/11

“Chairman Kohl and his colleagues clearly get it.  But they can only do so much by themselves.” –Chris Castle, Legal expert on technology and policy, 12/19/11

“Google acknowledges that it sometimes supplies its own answer to user questions at the top of its search results. For example, if a user asks about a company’s stock price, Google will supply an answer using Google Finance.” –The Hill, 12/19/11

“[Schmidt’s]response to the claim that Google favors its own products in search results was to make the specious argument that Google doesn’t have separate products outside of its search service — never mind that Google actually hosts a page titled Products – Everything Google listing all of its products, including web search.” –SearchEngineLand, 12/19/11

“While new government regulations should be approached with caution and prudence, it is imperative for the future of Internet to enforce existing rules to protect consumers and promote a competitive technology and search marketplace. Ensuring that Google takes steps to protect the privacy of its users and does not hinder competition or harm small businesses and consumers is certainly within the bounds of FTC oversight.”-The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, 12/19/11