TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer says he’s disappointed that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission didn’t take action against Google’s “anti-competitive behavior” when it dropped its probe despite a staff recommendation to the contrary a couple of years ago, and he’s hopeful the European Commission won’t take the same tack.
“Google’s anti-competitive behavior and restricting search does not benefit consumers and it’s disappointing that with so many examples the FTC closed the investigation,” Kaufer tells Skift. “We are hopeful the European Commission will come to a different conclusion.”
Barring major concessions by Google, the European Commission appears poised to take action against Google’s practice of favoring Google-owned products over those of competitors.
The New York Times notes that Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s antitrust regulator, is attending antitrust gatherings in Washington this week, and an announcement about formal charges against Google is possible.
A settlement is likewise possible if Google makes significant concessions.
“Some experts say that Mr. [Joaquín] Almunia’s unsuccessful strategy makes further attempts to settle the case without formal charges unlikely,” The New York Times story says, referring to Vestager’s predecessor.
In the travel industry, companies such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Expedia and Skoosh, among others, are believed to have cooperated with the investigation and have pushed for competitive relief.
In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission’s bureau of competition staff advised the commission to sue Google and agreed with TripAdvisor’s and Yelp’s charges in 2011 that Google was illegally ripping off their user reviews, but the FTC decided not to challenge Google in court amidst heavy Google lobbying of White House and FTC officials.