expected, the Federal Trade Commission’s Chairman Jon Leibowitz just announced at apress conference in Washington, DC that the agency has settled with Google to resolve the 20-month antitrust probe into the company’s alleged anticompetitive behavior.
Google is making two voluntary product changes:
- More choice for websites: Websites can already opt out of Google Search, and they can now remove content (for example reviews) from specialized search results pages, such as local, travel and shopping;
- More ad campaign control: Advertisers can already export their ad campaignsfrom Google AdWords. They will now be able to mix and copy ad campaign data within third-party services that use our AdWords API.
Interestingly, the FTC decided not to take any action in connection with the allegation that Google unfairly biased its own products over competing products, something that will likely upset many of its competitors.
Google also agreed with the FTC that it “will seek to resolve standard-essential patent disputes through a neutral third party before seeking injunctions. This agreement establishes clear rules of the road for standards essential patents going forward.”
“The changes Google has agreed to make will ensure that consumers continue to reap the benefits of competition in the online marketplace and in the market for innovative wireless devices they enjoy,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements.”
This is, of course, not the first time the FTC has settled with Google and given the company a slap on the wrist. In August 2012, the FTC also settled with Google when the company knowingly bypassed Safari’s privacy settings in oder to place tracking cookies on users’ machines. Back then, Google paid $22.5 million to settle the charge.
When the FTC started its investigation, Google said that it would cooperate with the FTC, but the company never admitted any wrongdoing. Instead, Google always argued that it’s actions have always been guided by “what’s best for the user” and worked to create loyal customers without locking them into its products.