Three months after holding a hearing on Google’s search engine business practices, Senators Kohl and Lee have written a letter to FTC Chairman Leibowitz urging a thorough investigation of the company. As anyone with even the remotest interest in the subject knows, the FTC has had such an investigation underway for some time now, and it is undoubtedly the most high-profile antitrust issue currently on the agency’s agenda. Thus, the only purpose for such a letter would seem to be to apply political pressure on the agency for what is, essentially, an antitrust law enforcement matter.
Most worrisome, the letter contains hardly a mention of what is in consumers’ best interests, which should be the focus of antitrust enforcement. Instead, while the Senators write it is not their intention to protect any specific competitor, their arguments are based on the complaints of several competitors who testified during a committee hearing they sponsored to hear those complaints.
We hope and trust that the FTC is undertaking a thorough investigation based on antitrust law as opposed to bowing to pressure from elected officials. This will increase the likelihood of a result that is truly in the interest of consumers.