The Federal Trade Commission’s proposed antitrust case against Internet giant’s Google has started to crumble according to a new report.
Bloomberg have reported that sources have told them the U.S. regulators are now wavering over whether they can prove Google’s system of ranking search results truly ‘hurts’ the consumer.
The FTC and European Commission were both set to launch an assault on Google that would have sent the search engine giant reeling, but as of yet neither has committed to any solid action.
In truth, this was always going to be a hard case for them to follow through as Google has no obligation to undersell its own products such as Google shops over other services, despite Google’s rivals voicing concerns over the system.
Much like Google’s rivals, the priority given by Google to its own services – ensuring they usually remained on page one of the search results – is also the main concern of those within the FTC as well as the European Commission.
Ultimately however, antitrust law is designed to protect the consumer rather than competitors, and that is where the FTC have to tread carefully in planning any legal action.
Google has always claimed that its search algorithm is designed to benefit its users and that there is no obligation on the user’s part to use Google’s own services, even if in SEO terms it naturally presents them as the best option by ranking them at the top of the search results.
It has been claimed that the FTC chairman, Jon Leibowitz, has already told Google to agree to a consent decree or else face a lawsuit, although the full details remain unclear, with a final decision set to be made following a vote of the five commissioners of the FTC at the end of the month.
According to legal observers, whether the FTC and European Commission now decide to try to push for a settlement rather than formulate legal action, is expected to become clearer by the end of the year .
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