Ellison asks FTC to release 2013 Google antitrust investigation

Ellison asks FTC to release 2013 Google antitrust investigation
© Greg Nash

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, wants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to provide more information regarding its antitrust assessment of Google in 2013.

In a letter to Republican FTC acting Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen, Ellison asked that the agency publicly release its analysis. At the time, the agency ruled that Google had not committed any antitrust or any anti-competition violations.

Google agreed to make voluntary changes to some of its business practices regarding smart phones and its search engine to help resolve the investigation.

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“The evidence the FTC uncovered through this intensive investigation prompted us to require significant changes in Google’s business practices. However, regarding the specific allegations that the company biased its search results to hurt competition, the evidence collected to date did not justify legal action by the Commission,” Beth Wilkinson, outside counsel to the Commission, said at the time.

Ellison believes that despite the ruling, the agency should share its findings.

“Given the impact Google has on small businesses, the flow of information, and that Google controls an outsize portion of the market for online search and online advertising, the public has a right to know what the Federal Trade Commission found in its investigation into Google,” Ellison said.

The Minnesota lawmaker argued that the European Commission’s ruling earlier this year that Google pay $2.7 billion in penalties over antitrust violations is a “compelling reason,” for the FTC to make its report public.

Ellison’s call comes amid growing concern over the size of large Silicon Valley tech firms like Google, Facebook and Amazon. Some economists like Matt Stoller and Hal Singer have argued that even though such companies don’t fit into the traditional definitions of monopolies, antitrust policies should be revised to potentially include them.