Consumer Group Seeks FTC Action Against Google

Consumer Watchdog has asked the Federal Trade Commission to file suit against Google on antitrust grounds over its Android operating system.

The call came after the European Union initially concluded this week that Google had abused its dominant position in search by putting restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile broadband ISPs in violation of EU antitrust rules.

Consumer Watchdog says Google has the same power and employs the same practices in the U.S. "“Our antitrust enforcers need to step up and do their job instead of letting the Europeans do it for them,” said John Simpson, privacy project director for Consumer Watchdog.

The FTC investigated Google's search practices but closed that investigation in 2013. There was talk earlier this year on Capitol Hill about asking the FTC to reopen that investigation given new concerns about Google favoring its own content in local search.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association—whose members include Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!—sent up a "be careful what you wish for" warning flare following the EU decision. “The [European] Commission needs to be careful, as challenging the contractual provisions that allow open source operating systems to compete against proprietary software can backfire. If not careful, the Commission could harm competition, not foster it.

“While we can appreciate the European Commission’s desire to be vigilant about investigating competition issues, the market for apps and services is extremely competitive," CCIA said. "At first blush, it is difficult to see the contracts identified by the Commission as being competition problems. In fact, they have clear procompetitive motivations."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.