Yelp Accuses Google Of Violating Its FTC Antitrust Settlement

September 13, 2017 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

Business review service Yelp on Monday sent a letter to the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in which it accuses Google of violating the terms of its 2012 antitrust settlement with the agency. Five years ago, the Alphabet-owned company agreed to allow websites to opt out of its data collection program which essentially scraps various information including images from the World Wide Web and displays it in one’s search results, with that move officially marking the end of the FTC’s probe into the company’s supposedly monopolistic behavior.

Yelp is now claiming that Google is violating the terms of that settlement, as detailed in its Monday letter addressed to the FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen which leaked online a day after it was sent to the federal agency. The San Francisco, California-based company claims that it identified 385,888 images of various businesses taken and posted by its users within Google’s localized Internet search results, adding how that alarming amount of evidence was uncovered in only an hour, suggesting that the extent of Google’s violations is significantly larger than that. Yelp previously argued that Google’s image-scrapping efforts are anti-competitive in nature and an abuse of the company’s dominant position in the Internet search market, and the FTC essentially agreed with that notion, mandating the Mountain View, California-based tech giant to cease such activities in the future.

Five years later, Yelp noticed that Google once again started displaying some of its images in its search results, with the transgression supposedly being initially uncovered at some point in August. The latest turn of events marks another potentially major issue for the firm on the antitrust front, with its shopping comparison service recently becoming a subject of an unprecedented fine in Europe and its Android and AdWords units also being under investigation for anti-competitive transgressions on the Old Continent. Allegations that Google is potentially abusing the leading position of its Search service haven’t been particularly prevalent in the company’s home country until recently, though it’s now facing such charges from numerous directions, with even its former partner and co-founder of Opera Software accusing it of monopolistic behavior.