Orrin Hatch Asks FTC To Investigate Google For Antitrust Violations

Kyle Perisic | Contributor

Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday to investigate Google ads, alleging it has violated antitrust policies.

“I respectfully request that the FTC consider the competitive effects of Google’s conduct in search and digital advertising,” Hatch wrote in a press release Thursday.

Hatch raised a number of concerns, ranging from Google’s data collection policies to its potential anticompetitive behavior. He pointed to the last FTC investigation of Google which concluded in 2013 after deciding not to press charges against Google.

Citing a CBS “60 Minutes” segment on Google, the FTC, and Yelp on May 20, Hatch points out how the investigation “highlighted several allegations regarding purportedly anticompetitive conduct by the company involving its search practices.”

Google is accused of placing its content, like reviews for restaurants, over its competitors, such as Yelp.

The FTC investigated Google’s practices in 2011, but despite the FTC Bureau of Competition actually recommending an antitrust lawsuit be filed against Google, federal authorities dropped the case.

The “60 Minutes” episode speculates that Google evaded prosecution due to its aggressive lobbying efforts and close ties to the Obama administration.

“Other reports have highlighted the fact that Google has, on occasion, decided to remove from its platforms legal businesses that the company apparently does not agree with,” Hatch continued. (RELATED: Orrin Hatch Calls Out Democrats’ ‘Dumbass’ Partisanship Over Kavanaugh Document Request)

The report Hatch is referring to is a July 4 Wall Street Journal article that details how Google and Facebook can effectively monopolize ideas by banning certain types of ads because it doesn’t agree with them. In this case, Google and Facebook banned payday loans and bail bond ads.

Google’s near-complete monopoly of internet searches and Facebook’s dominance in social media, the companies’ ability to effectively wipe out an entire industry raises concerns about anti-trust and anti-competitive behavior, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported July 5.

Hatch’s letter wasn’t entirely critical of Google. He also acknowledged the utility and value of some of Google’s services, saying Google has “a long track record of providing valuable services and making important, innovative contributions. But much has changed since the FTC last looked at Google’s conduct regarding search and digital advertising.”

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