NPR : News

Filed Under:

FTC Closes Google Inquiry; Tech Giant Makes Changes And Avoids Antitrust Charges

Google has agreed to change some of its business practices, in an agreement made with the Federal Trade Commission that will end the U.S. agency's antitrust probe of the search and technology company.

In the terms of the deal, Google agrees not to appropriate content such as users' reviews from other sites for use in its search and mobile offerings. The company also pledged to make it easier for advertisers to compare the value of running ad campaigns through Google compared to advertising on rivals Yahoo and Microsoft.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, who announced the long-awaited deal Thursday, says Google will end "the most troubling of its business practices related to Internet search and search advertising," particularly the "scraping" of other sites for content.

Update at 1:55 p.m. ET: Google's Take On Agreement.

Saying that "We've always accepted that with success comes regulatory scrutiny," Google senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond says that companies "can now remove content (for example reviews) from specialized search results pages, such as local, travel and shopping."

As for the patent aspects of the deal, Drummond writes, "This agreement establishes clear rules of the road for standards essential patents going forward."

If you'd like to read the agreement for yourself, it's on the FTC's site.

Our original post continues:

The agreement closes the FTC's antitrust investigation of Google that began in June of 2011, after many of Google's competitors complained that the company was using its dominant spot in the search market to funnel business to its offerings in other areas, as well. The consumer review website Yelp and online shopping engine Expedia have been among those calling for Google to change its ways.

The agreement also requires Google to ease the process for other companies to license "essential" patented mobile and wireless technology that was once widely available under terms set by Motorola years ago. Google acquired Motorola for nearly $13 billion last year, in part to gain control of its more than 24,000 patents.

The change, Leibowitz says, "will also relieve companies of hoarding patents for defensive purposes."

While Google agreed to make those changes, it is not being required to alter its essential search practices. The company has previously been accused of configuring its algorithms to privilege its own products — something its rivals call "search bias."

On its website, the agency says that "the FTC concluded that the introduction of Universal Search, as well as additional changes made to Google's search algorithms – even those that may have had the effect of harming individual competitors – could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google's product and the experience of its users. It therefore has chosen to close the investigation."

Copyright 2013 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

For 3 Climbers, Summiting Meru Was An 'Irresistible' Challenge

Meru is a 21,000-foot mountain in northern India. Some of the greatest climbers in the world have tried and failed to reach its peak — a sheer granite wall known as the Shark's Fin.
NPR

How Big Egg Tried To Bring Down Little 'Mayo' (And Failed)

Newly released emails from the American Egg Board reveal embarrassing details about its fight against the vegan product Just Mayo. Industry critics say the board's antics may have broken the law.
WAMU 88.5

Friday News Roundup - International

Hungary struggles to deal with thousands of migrants at a Budapest train station. World leaders react to news the Obama administration clears a hurdle on the Iran nuclear deal. And the king of Saudi Arabia makes his first official visit to Washington. A panel of journalists joins guest host Tamara Keith for analysis of the week's top international news stories.

NPR

How The Architect Of Netflix's Innovative Culture Lost Her Job To The System

Netflix is famous for pioneering a company culture that demands standout results from every employee. One of the architects of this philosophy ended up losing her job to the system she created.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.