Google Confirms FTC Probe, Asserts Innocence

Google Fellow Amit Singhal on Friday wrote in a blog post that Google received formal notification from the FTC that it has begun a review of the company's business.

The FTC investigation of Google, which on Thursday was reported by The Wall Street Journal, reflects federal regulators concerns about whether Google is abusing its Web-search advertising dominance.

Unlike previous FTC investigations of Google related mainly to mergers and acquisitions, this appears to be the first to look closely at Google's core search business, the Journal reported.

Singhal in his Friday blog wrote that Google will work closely with the FTC in relation to the investigation. However, he wrote, his company is not quite sure what the FTC is looking for. " It’s still unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are, but we’re clear about where we stand," he wrote.

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Singhal defended Google's 13 years of providing search technology that allows users to look for required information at no charge, and wrote that the company has always been clear to distinguish advertisement from search results.

Furthermore, Singhal wrote, Google has been transparent about how it does ranking of searches.

"We share more information about how our rankings work than any other search engine, through our Webmaster Central site, blog, diagnostic tools, support forum, and YouTube. We also give advertisers detailed information about the ad auction and tips to improve their ad quality scores. We’ve recently introduced even more transparency tools, announcing a major change to our algorithm, providing more notice when a website is demoted due to spam violations, and giving advertisers new information about ads that break our rules," he wrote.

Google has gone through its share of FTC investigations, and has not prevailed in every one.

In March, Google reached an agreement with the FTC to settle a privacy controversy that flared up in 2010 with the launch of Google Buzz after many users complained about ineffective privacy controls.

Last November, the FTC launched an investigation into whether Google broke any federal laws when it collected personal data while gathering information for its Google Street View service. The FTC eventually dropped the probe. The FTC, along with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DoJ), in 2009 investigated Google and Apple over concerns about conflict of interest caused by Google CEO Eric Schmidt's being a member of Apple's Board of Directors. Schmidt later that year resigned from the Apple Board.