Consumer Watchdog: The US should follow the EU in scrutinizing Google

By Nathaniel Mott , written on April 15, 2015

From The News Desk

Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson has called for regulators in the United States to follow the European Commission in challenging Google's practices.

The commission announced earlier this morning that it has sent a Statement of Objections to Google alleging that it unfairly promotes Google Shopping, its product comparison service, over third-party sites that serve a similar function. It has also started an investigation into rules governing the Android platform.

Simpson said that Consumer Watchdog has seen a "consistent pattern of [Google's] abuse of its search monopoly" since the advocacy group first asked American regulators to take action against the tech company back in 2010.

In a conference call, Simpson cited a Wall Street Journal report which showed that the Federal Trade Commission launched an antitrust investigation into Google that ended in 2012, without any complaints levied against the company.

The Journal's report made it clear that some FTC officials wanted to file suit against Google -- others believed that settling with the company, and ending the investigation after it made voluntary changes, would be better for consumers.

Simpson said during the call that the Department of Justice also has authority in this case, so even if the European Commission's actions don't prompt a suit from the FTC, there are ways for American regulators to follow Europe's lead. Not that he's convinced regulators will actually chastise Google at this point.

"Part of the problem [...] is that Google has got tremendous lobbying abilities. They’re very well connected in [Washington,] DC, to the Obama administration, and now it looks like we’re entering a presidential election and they’re starting to get their connections there, potentially, with Hillary Clinton’s chief technical officer coming over from Google," Simpson said. "It may be hard on this side of the pond to bring this sort of close scrutiny that the Internet giant deserves.”

Google previously refuted the European Commission's claims in several blog posts claiming that its practices haven't resulted in problems for competitors, manufacturers, or the consumers who might have been affected by its actions.