The FTC and the Google Effect

January 12, 2013

I have been in Chile and Argentina. I have not had much time to follow the light paintings created by Google and its cohorts. I did read “FTC Chairman Defends Google Settlement: We Did What the Law Required.” Due to my well known lack of information when running around remote regions, I am not sure what the FTC did, why it did “something,” or how the world perceives the FTC “something.”

I do know what I read:

It’s been just over a week since the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced a historic settlement with Google, wherein they declined to press antitrust charges after a 19-month-long investigation into the Internet giant’s search and mobile businesses. Now, after facing a barrage of criticism, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz is speaking out, defending the regulatory agency’s decision-making as legally sound and beneficial for competition and consumers in an exclusive telephone interview with TPM.

Okay. Here’s the snippet which interested me:

Still, after the FTC’s Google settlement was announced, major U.S. news outlets characterized it as a win for Google: “U.S. Ends Inquiry On Web Search; Google Is Victor,” read the headline on the front page of the Jan. 4th print edition of The New York Times; The Wall Street Journal’s headline read similarly: “Google Dodges Antitrust Hit.”

A fellow named Leibowitz, a top dog at the US FTC allegedly said:

“Perhaps to some extent we helped to build up expectations,” Leibowitz said. “But I also think complainants created great expectations of their own. I think that as time goes on, more and more people will recognize we did justice.”

I find the phrase “we did justice” intriguing. Is this similar to “doing macramé”, “doing time,” or “doing laundry.” Perhaps we need a verb, to justice. Therefore, the FTC was “justicing”, which may be somewhat more accurate.

I don’t have a dog in the fight, nor do I at the advanced age of 69 care too much about online search results. When I was in Patagonia, online was not pervasive. To get information, one has to ask another human, assuming one can find one amidst the penguins and sheep.

The delightful part of the write  up is this passage:

“I will say I’m really happy with my job,” Leibowitz told TPM. “I love my colleagues and we have done and are doing great things. At some, of point of course, I will think about doing other things. But I have had a number of great jobs in Washington, and I have never had a better or more fulfilling job than this one.”

Will Google offer the justicing Leibowitz a job? Maybe Foundem needs an advisor?

Stephen E Arnold, January 12, 2013

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