Hatch Wants FTC to Investigate Google’s Anti-Competitive Practices

‘Needless to say, I found these reports disquieting…’

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Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch/PHOTO: Gage Skidmore (CC)

(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google.

Hatch fired off a letter Thursday to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons in which the prominent Utah Republican expressed “concerns about the competitive effects of Google’s conduct” as both the world’s most used Internet search engine and as a digital advertiser.

Hatch is a member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, and of the Subcommittee on the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights.

In his letter, he urged FTC chairman Simons to consider “anti-competitive developments” since Google was last investigated in 2013.

Hatch cited numerous antitrust complaints and reports against the tech giant—now the third largest company in the world—including its practice of restricting advertisements from its competitors, giving third-party app developers access to Gmail users’ email contents and removing legal businesses that the company doesn’t agree with.

“Needless to say, I found these reports disquieting,” he said.

Hatch’s letter follows several related tweets by President Donald Trump earlier in the week.

Trump took Google to task on Twitter for prioritizing anti-Trump “fake news” over unbiased or favorable reporting.

Hatch said he raised similar antitrust concerns with former FTC Chair Edith Ramirez in March 2016, during a Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing.

According to the letter, Hatch cited studies concluding that rather than benefiting consumers, as the FTC found might happen back in 2013, Google’s search page has actually harmed many consumers.

“You and an entire new slate of FTC commissioners have been recently confirmed,” Hatch reminded Simons.

“During the confirmation hearing, you and several other commissioners expressed support for creating a program to look back at previous decisions on mergers and whether those choices had been effective. In light of all of these changes, I respectfully request that the FTC consider the competitive effects of Google’s conduct in search and digital advertising,” he wrote.