On June 24, Google confirmed their business was being investigated by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Allegedly, the FTC is trying to gather information on Google’s search algorithms, updates, how they work, etc. This investigation isn’t the result of a particular crime or the opening of an official case, but has been encouraged by other organizations who are claiming foul play by the search giant.
Among the many accusations of Google are two claims I’d like to address: one is the claim that Google is a monopoly and is violating antitrust laws, and two is the claim that they give their own properties preferential treatment in search results.
As to the first point, I’m no lawyer but it seems that the purpose of antitrust laws is to protect the individual. If you live in an area with only one cable provider, then you know exactly how this feels. But Google isn’t dominating the search world because it’s bought out all it’s competition and/or staked out a geographical claim no one can tough; it’s dominating the search world because it’s been giving individuals what they’re looking for.
As to the second point, I don’t see any problem with Google giving itself preferential treatment in search results. Google is a business, not a public service. And not only that, Google is a biased business. Macy’s may have been telling people to go to Gimbels, but not just because they wanted to do something nice for their customers; they were trying to build their own business. Google doesn’t have any legal – or moral, for that matter – obligation to treat their competition equitably. If people don’t like that idea, there are other search engines they can use.
All in all, I doubt anything will come of these investigations. The FTC may have a few recommendations, or at very worse fine Google, but don’t expect to see any radical changes to Google or the online world.