Chief regulators meet in Brussels this week to discuss whether or not Google’s competitive strategies are to be litigated, mitigated, penalized, or ignored.
The Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Jon Leibowitz, is in Brussels for meetings with his counterpart, Joaquín Almunia, at the European Commission to mull over whether or not Google is unfairly leveraging its dominant position versus competitors. Both the FTC and the European Commission for Competition have been investigating possible Google abuses.
At the crux of this matter, of late, is the relative weakness of the FTC’s position on a possible Google antitrust case, in relation to a similarly strong stance against Google by their European counterpart. While extensive lobbying in the United States would seem to have affected the forthcoming FTC determination, Almunia has clearly sent the message Google may have big trouble in Europe. Whether or not the FTC decides to pursue Google in court, European sanctions could cost the world’s biggest Internet company billions in fines and fees, not to mention inestimable reputation damage.
Recent misgivings (reports) reflective of the FTC position show Leibowitz and his fellow having wavers in their stance. As for the reasons, an article in the Telegraph this morning by Technology Correspondent Christopher Williams makes no bones about bringing to the forefront Google lawyers and lobbyists as instigators of FTC stance. Leibowitz is so obviously on the “hot seat”, and desperately seeking guidance (evidence) from abroad.
Of course Google denies any abuses of their dominant position in search. Currently Google owns two thirds of all search result queries on the web in the US, and nearly all of said searches in Europe. No matter the points of discussion in Brussels, it is readily apparent both agencies and their leadership will be heavily scrutinized and judged on their forthcoming decisions. Even though Leibowitz intends leaving office, leading technology legal experts content a bad decision here will follow the FTC boss forever, obviously, the same holds true for his European counterpart.
For those interested in the European Commission’s stance on competition, these pages contain the current legislation. As for statements from the FTC and the European Commission, we will advice once they have returned our calls and inquiries. A final note here, surely someone has to be asking; “Since when has United States policy and regulatory action been based on outside opinion?”