- A senior Republican senator has called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google over allegations of anticompetitive behaviour.
- Sen. Orrin Hatch highlighted news reports outlining what he said was problematic behaviour, like Google’s prioritisation of its own services in search, its collection of Android location data, and its many acquisitions.
- He said Google had cemented its dominance through collecting personal data and suggested there was little competition.
- Hatch’s letter to the FTC rounds off a tough week for Google, which has also come under fire from President Donald Trump.
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has urged the Federal Trade Commission to open a new antitrust investigation into Google.
Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, argued on Thursday in a letter to the FTC’s new chairman, Joseph Simons, that Google had become “more dominant” since the competition body last investigated its conduct in 2013 without major repercussions for the firm. Hatch is a member of the Senate’s antitrust committee.
In his letter, Hatch wrote that Google had greatly expanded its capabilities since 2013 and that there was still a relative lack of competition.
For example, Hatch pointed to Google’s 2010 acquisition of AdMob being waved through on the expectation that Apple would compete in the advertising space. Apple exited the mobile-ad business in 2016.
“That belief never became a reality,” Hatch wrote. “Instead, by many measures, Google’s position throughout the ad market, publisher-side ad servers to ad exchanges to advertiser-side ad servers, has become more dominant. And Google accumulates data at essentially every step.”
Hatch cited media reports describing Google’s accumulation of power, such as a May segment from “60 Minutes” on its many acquisitions, a Quartz investigation into Google’s collection of location data on Android, and a Wall Street Journal report on developers reading people’s Gmail messages.
Hatch wrote: “Although these reports concern different aspects of Google’s business, many relate to the company’s dominant position in search and accumulating vast amounts of personal data. That is why I also write to urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to reconsider the competitive effects of Google’s conduct in search and digital advertising.”
This isn’t Hatch’s first run-in with Google. In July, he criticised the search firm for promoting results that claimed he was dead.
Google did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
You can read Hatch’s full letter here:
Google is under siege from conservatives
The letter rounds off a tough week for Google, which has also come under fire from President Donald Trump.
The president claimed on Twitter that Google was rigging search results to favour liberal news outlets, and he incorrectly said the search company had promoted President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address but not his own. Google subsequently said it had shown Trump’s 2018 address, citing archived webpages to back it up.
While Trump’s attacks may be ill-informed, he is nonetheless in the position to do Google serious damage. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said Silicon Valley firms such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon were “very antitrust” but wouldn’t comment on breaking them up.
Other conservatives are also gunning for Google, Axios reported on Thursday. The news website quoted an unnamed Trump operative as saying Google’s perceived liberal bias was getting the right wing as worked up as issues of gun control and immigration have.
“It’s risen to the level of being an emotional or gut issue with conservatives, like guns/immigration,” the operative told Axios. “It’s an issue that’s here to stay.”
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