Capping off a week of attacks on the company, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) called Thursday for an investigation into search giant Google’s possibly anti-competitive practices. Hatch expressed concern in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission that Google was abusing its dominant market position by excluding competitors from its search advertisements. Google controls about 90 percent of global searches, a position it could potentially leverage to exclude would-be competitors from the market.
Central to Hatch’s criticisms are Google’s data collection and privacy practices, which he claimed exacerbate the firm’s potential to crowd out components. Several of Hatch’s Senate colleagues, he noted, have previously expressed concern to Google over its data collection practices, including giving actual content of Gmail emails to third-party developers.
A recent study found that even in the “incognito” mode of Google’s popular Chrome browser, where users are assured of their privacy, data tends to leak out to third parties. This suggests that the firm has less of a handle on the enormous volume of data it collects than users might be led to believe.
Hatch noted that in 2013 the FTC came very close to pursuing antitrust action against Google. FTC staff at the time wrote that it was a “close question” whether or not Google had formed an illegal monopoly by preferring its own “vertical content over that of rivals, while simultaneously demoting rival vertical websites.” Reporting on the staff recommendation by the Wall Street Journal prompted two state Attorneys General to ask the FTC to consider anti-trust proceedings.
Read more at the Washington Free Beacon.