Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Federal Trade Commission was deeply divided over whether to sue Google for anticompetitive practices after investigations began in 2012. But the FTC has now countered that report, claiming that its decision on the allegations "was in accord with the recommendations of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Economics, and Office of General Counsel," and that "not a single fact is offered to substantiate [The Wall Street Journal's] misleading narrative."
The FTC says its decision was in accord with recommendations
The FTC's investigation began in 2012, and looked into whether the company had broken antitrust laws by demoting search results, incorporating information from sources such as Yelp into its own results, and removing results entirely from searches. Google made minor changes to its practices in response to the investigation's findings, but The Wall Street Journal says the FTC was seriously considering punishing the search giant further. Confidential documents reportedly referred to the FTC's decision not to issue a complaint to Google as "a close call."
In a statement attributed to three senior FTC officials, including chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the FTC said it regretted its inadvertent disclosure of the documents after a freedom-of-information request. While the statement notes that "some of the FTC's staff attorneys on the search investigation raised concerns about several other Google practices," the the company's search practices were not "on balance, demonstrably anticompetitive." The FTC says The Wall Street Journal's article "makes a number of misleading inferences and suggestions about the integrity of the FTC's investigation" by suggesting meetings between FTC and Google representatives affected the final decision.