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Orrin Hatch wants the Federal Trade Commision to investigate Google



Google I/O 2018 sundar pichaiGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai.Stephen Lam/Reuters

  • A senior Republican senator has called on the Federal Trade Commision to investigate Google for anti-competitive behavior.
  • Orrin Hatch highlighted problematic behavior like Google prioritising its own services in search, its collection of Android location data, and its many acquisitions.
  • He said Google had cemented its dominance through collecting personal data and suggested there was little competition.
  • The letter rounds off a tough week for Google, which has also come under fire from President Donald Trump.

Senior Republican Senator Orrin Hatch has written to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), urging the competition body to open a new antitrust investigation into Google.

Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, argued that Google had become “more dominant” since the FTC last investigated Google’s conduct in 2013 without major repercussions for the firm. Hatch is a member of the Senate’s antitrust committee.

In his letter to the FTC’s new chairman, Joseph Simons, Hatch wrote that Google had greatly expanded its capabilities since 2013, and that there was still a relative lack of competition.

For example, he pointed to the fact that Google’s 2010 acquisition of AdMob was waved through on the expectation that Apple would compete in the advertising space. Apple exited the mobile ad business in 2016.

“That belief never became a reality,” Hatch wrote. “Instead, by many measures, Google’s position throughout the ad market, publisher-side ad servers to ad exchanges to advertiser-side ad servers, has become more dominant. And Google accumulates data at essentially every step.”

orrin hatchRepublican Senator Orrin Hatch.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Hatch cited media reports showing Google’s accumulation of power, such as a May segment from 60 Minutes probing its many acquisitions. He also pointed to a Quartz investigation into Google’s collection of location data on Android, and a Wall Street Journal report on developers reading people’s Gmail messages.

Hatch wrote: “Although these reports concern different aspects of Google’s business, many relate to the company’s dominant position in search and accumulating vast amounts of personal data.

“That is why I also write to urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to reconsider the competitive effects of Google’s conduct in search and digital advertising.”

This isn’s Hatch’s first run-in with Google. In July, he criticised the search firm for promoting results showing he was dead.

Business Insider has contacted Google for comment.

You can read Senator Hatch’s letter in full here:

Donald TrumpDonald Trump.Win McNamee/Getty Images

The letter rounds off a tough week for Google, which has also come under fire from President Donald Trump.

The president claimed on Twitter that Google was rigging search results to favour liberal news outlets, and incorrectly said that the search company had promoted President Obama’s State of the Union address, but not his own. Google subsequently said it had shown Trump’s 2018 address, and archived web pages back the company up.

While Trump’s attacks may be ill-informed, he is nonetheless in the position to do Google serious damage. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said Silicon Valley firms such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon were “very antitrust” but wouldn’t comment on breaking them up.

Other conservatives are also gunning for Google, according to Axios. The website reported on Thursday that its perceived liberal bias is getting the right-wing as exercised as the gun-control debate and immigration issues.

“It’s risen to the level of being an emotional or gut issue with conservatives, like guns/immigration,” an unnamed Trump operative told Axios. “It’s an issue that’s here to stay.”

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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