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U.S. Senator To FTC: Investigate Google Over Search, Ad Practices

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah cites “anticompetitive conduct by the company involving search practices.”

A Republican senator is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potential antitrust violations by Google around its search and digital advertising practices.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, in a letter to the FTC Thursday, said that “in the past, Google has placed restrictions on publishers’ displaying search advertisements from its competitors. Google loosened some of those restrictions when faced with antitrust complaints, and the European Commission has said it is monitoring to see if those new restrictions have anticompetitive effects.”

Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, pointed to a segment that aired on the TV news show “60 Minutes” in May alleging “anticompetitive conduct by the company involving search practices.”

Hatch’s letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons comes two days after President Trump railed against the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant, saying that “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me [and] others, so that almost all stories[and] news is BAD. ... This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!”


Google, for its part, said in a statement that “search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political agenda.”

Last month, Google was hit with a massive $5.05 billion fine from the European Union, which found that the company violated antitrust rules by imposing "illegal restrictions" on Android device makers and mobile network operators, allegedly aimed at bolstering Google's search engine. At the time, Trump slammed the EU’s decision to fine “one of our great companies.”


A Google spokesperson did not return a message seeking comment on Hatch’s letter by press time. FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan confirmed receipt of Hatch’s letter and said “we take all correspondence from members of Congress very seriously. However, we have no comment beyond that.”

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