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Senator Asks To Reopen U.S. Google Antitrust Case

April 6, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

The argument that Google is giving its own results in some of its search products special treatment, as well as bundling services in Android in an anticompetitive manner, has sparked mass debate worldwide, with some countries even opening up antitrust cases to formally investigate Google’s practices and determine if punitive action should be taken. The European Union, in particular, is putting Google through the ringer over local search, comparison shopping and Android, with the charge led by Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. As if the EU nightmare weren’t enough for Google to worry about, Senator Richard Blumenthal has come forward in the United States, aided by former Federal Trade Commission adviser Tim Wu, to ask for the antitrust case against Google on its home soil, closed on paper but not in spirit since 2013, to be renewed.

The argument is that the outcome of the last case was satisfactory, but things have changed a bit since then. Wu argued that it’s indisputable at this point that Google is manipulating results in their own favor in some areas and that the evidence of actual harm to consumers as a result is much stronger and easier to spot now than it once was. Tim Wu’s stance on Google apparently changed after having the opportunity to work on a research paper funded and helped with by Yelp that showed some of Google’s anticompetitive practices in action and how they harmed competition.

These fresh allegations on United States soil happen to come as EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is currently investigating Google on multiple fronts, is set to visit the United States and talk things out in the nation’s capital, raising suspicions that the timing may show an ulterior motive for choosing now to ask for a new case. A similar accusation was meted out last month by Senator Orrin Hatch, but his concerns were ultimately dismissed. While that doesn’t point to anything definitive, it does show that the embattled search giant has a chance to turn things around and avoid being attacked in the U.S. while trying to navigate their massive EU antitrust case and some international tax avoidance accusations.