The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been in the process of investigating the search engine giant, Google, for the past 19 months to determine if Google gave preference to its own products in search results. It ruled on January 3rd, that the company would not face charges, only after Google agreed to several conditions. First, Google will provide more information to advertisers, and exclude material from outside sources, such as product reviewers, from results. The corporation will also moderate the price per use for patents it acquired from Motorola Mobility to “fair and reasonable rates.” These patents control technology used for wide ranging tasks such as allowing a smart phone to access wireless internet. Additionally, Google will now permit other search engines to copy content from advertising campaigns on its site, and it will stop copying content from other sites for its own product summaries.
Despite a statement by FTC chairman John Leibowitz declaring that no evidence linked Google to preferential search results, many believe the FTC did not do enough to investigate. Google is still awaiting a verdict in a similar investigation from the European Commission (EC). If Google is found guilty of breaking the European Union’s anti-trust laws, it could be fined up to four billion dollars. The corporation must provide a response to four main areas of accusation within the next month, including displaying it’s own vertical search results differently than competing products, copying content from reviews and other sources for its own services, claiming exclusivity of search terms, and limiting advertisers from going to other search engines.