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January 07, 2013

Google Investigation: FTC at Fault?

By Ashley Caputo, TMCnet Web Editor

The pace at which technology changes and grows is unbelievable to the average person, so it is easy to understand how hard it is for lawmakers to keep up. Laws and litigations have to be altered and remodeled in order for their validity to be maintained, which is becoming a clear necessity in our country.

As Google, one of our most trusted and favored search engines in the world, is being investigating on their rights to control searches by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), another debacle in the industry has begun to surface. Except instead of Google (News - Alert) being the center of the storm, the FTC is being scrutinized for its lack of substantiating reasons to punish a search engine.

For a year, Google was being investigated by the FTC (News - Alert) for favoring its own products in the search results that it produces. Without much proof to punish Google for any type of foul play, the FTC was forced to end its investigation. 

Image via Shutterstock

 Since Google has such a strong influence on what users choose when searching, it would make sense that companies would want a fair chance to be marketed on its site. And with so many competitors in the market, the situation transforms into a legal affair that the FTC pursued.

But where does it state in the FTC’s search engine rules that Google imposed any violations to these companies?

According to SEMPO, it doesn’t, which is why there was no way to impose any punishment on Google or its executives.

Thanks to SEMPO, a Search marketing industry association, light was shed on this issue by sending a letter to the FTC in regards to the outdated 2002 guidelines for search engine disclosure of paid advertisements in search results.

SEMPO’s letter to FTC’s Chair Jon Leibowitz (News - Alert) states: “Search is not a government-run utility, established by law and thus subject to bureaucratic oversight. It is a service provided to consumers and businesses by companies, which have set up their operations using their own principles, proprietary technologies and algorithms.”

The letter addresses the investigation of Google, which further validates the need to review the guidelines the FTC set forth in order to protect both the consumer and search engine.

 With an outdated guideline system and no legislative backing, the FTC seemed to have wasted a year on an investigation, when there is clearly a need for an inward change in its commission. We all know how much the technology industry has changed since 2002, and with that said, it is easy to see where the real issues lie.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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