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CEA Defends Google

In the wake of confirmation of a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Google's search and ad practices, the Consumer Electronics Association, which has been an ally with Google in the push for more spectrum for broadband, came to its defense, calling for a "narrow and swift" investigation.

"The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is obligated to ensure compliance with antitrust laws," said CEA President Gary Shapiro in a statement headlined "CEA to FTC: Let Google Get Back To Business." "However, the Commission must understand that our industry is characterized by disruptive innovation and constant change. Seemingly dominant market positions quickly erode as consumer preferences change and new competitors emerge. That is why, in the technology industry, competition regulation must occur with a very light hand."

CEA said that big doesn't mean bad, and that FTC needs to focus on consumer harm, a description Shapiro suggested Google did not fit. "In Google's case, it provides free services that tens of millions of Americans enjoy. Its search and advertising tools generated billions in revenue for small and large businesses. And if a user does not like Google's services, there are no switching or lock-in costs - a search engine competitor is just a mouse click away," he said.

He suggested that the FTC investigation could have negative consequences for innovation and productivity, two things the government is trying to promote. "Our international economic competitors promote and protect their crown-jewel companies. Unfortunately, in America it seems that our most successful and innovative firms attract the most intrusive regulatory scrutiny. These expensive, drawn-out investigations deter innovation, siphon money from productive uses, and place additional burdens on those trying to grow our economy," he said.