#AceNews Services – Featured Report:USA:April.21: EPIC has filed a FOIA request with the Federal Trade Commission, seeking the two reports prepared by agency staff during the 2012 Google antitrust investigation.
The Wall Street Journal has obtained a report revealing that the Commission ignored recommendations to reform Google’s anti-competitive practices.
According to the newspaper, the agency’s Bureau of Competition wrote a 160-page staff report for the Commissioners detailing four areas of anti-competitive concern and concluding that Google was engaging in illegal practices in three of those areas and very close to illegal conduct in the fourth area.
The Journal, however, has yet to make the documents available to the public.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the staff report read, "Google’s conduct has resulted – and will result – in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets. Google has strengthened its monopolies over search and search advertising through anti-competitive means, and has forestalled competitors’ and would-be competitors’ ability to challenge those monopolies, and this will have lasting negative effects on consumer welfare."
Nevertheless, the Commission voted unanimously to close the Google investigation in January 2013.
"The Commission may have been influenced by a second sealed staff report, written by the agency’s Bureau of Economics, which apparently argued against pursuing a lawsuit," says EPIC’s FOIA request. "As a consequence, Google’s dominance of the Internet, access to knowledge, and data concerning consumer’s private lives both online and in the home has increased."
After the FTC closed the Google investigation in 2013, EPIC made a FOIA request to the agency, asking it for any communications with the White House on the subject.
The FTC replied that "no responsive documents" existed.