After a 19-month investigation of Google’s business practices, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) did what it does best, caving to the online advertising monopoly and accepting a handful of small behavioral changes instead of forging ahead with formal antitrust charges. As was the case with Microsoft previously, we’ll need to wait for the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to step in before we see more stringent remedies against the firm.
“As we made clear when the FTC started its investigation, we’ve always been open to improvements that would create a better experience,” Google chief legal officer David Drummond wrote in a post to the Official Google Blog. “And today we’ve written to the FTC making two voluntary product changes.”
Those changes include:
More choice for websites. Websites can now remove content (including reviews) from specialized search results pages, such as local, travel, and shopping. Google had previously been stealing content from other websites and presenting it in their own services without permission.
More ad campaign control. Advertisers will be able mix and copy ad campaign data within third-party services that use our AdWords API. Google had previously been charged with forcing advertisers to use only its advertising APIs.
Google did not reach an agreement regarding the reasonable licensing of standard-essential patents but says it will work with the FTC to resolve related disputes through a neutral third party before seeking injunctions. Google had been charged with seeking to prevent the sale of products that it says infringe on its standard-essentials patents, which is illegal.
Actually, we might not need to wait for a years-later DOJ probe: Antitrust regulators in the European Union (EU) are also investigating Google for a string of antitrust issues, and unlike their balky US counterparts, they’ve proven to be far more open to stopping anticompetitive behavior earlier rather than later.