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Congressman urges regulators to drop Google antitrust case, threatens to diminish FTC's power

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Jared Polis
Jared Polis

Congressman Jared Polis is none too pleased with the antitrust case the Federal Trade Commission is reportedly preparing to launch against Google. The Colorado Democrat is urging the commission to refrain from taking any actions that could negatively impact Google's services or otherwise slow innovation at the search giant, and he's threatening to lessen the FTC's reach if regulators proceed. "Application of antitrust against Google would be a woefully misguided step that would threaten the integrity of our antitrust system," he warns in a pointed letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. He goes on to say a lawsuit "could ultimately lead to Congressional action resulting in a reduction in the ability of the FTC" to enforce antitrust matters.

"Given how easily consumers can switch to a new service with one click, regulators should be wary of intervening in the tremendous competition online," says Polis, essentially echoing Google's stance. He declares himself a "high-tech entrepreneur" and points to a resume that includes tenures with several startups that have made him familiar with Google's portfolio. Google poses no threat to competition, Polis insists, and faces the risk of falling to a competitor much like any other business. "If I created a better search algorithm I could set up a server in my garage and compete globally with Google," he says. That's an optimistic theory for certain: just ask Microsoft how difficult it is to break the Google habit.

But Polis doesn't stop the defensive effort there. He cites iTunes, Amazon, Yelp, and Facebook as proof that consumers don't turn to Google for all of their web needs. The public hasn't asked for government regulation, he claims, going so far as to call out the numerous protests prompted by controversial SOPA and PIPA legislation as examples of what can happen when the government oversteps its bounds. The FTC has yet to formally announce the results of its antitrust probe or any lawsuit against Google but clearly some lawmakers are hoping to avoid such a confrontation altogether.