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FTC’s Jon Leibowitz says antitrust settlement with Google was about ‘doing the right thing’


FTC’s Jon Leibowitz

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ended its probe against Google last week, and now the agency’s chairperson, Jon Leibowitz, is discussing the controversial decision with TPM.

“We did what were paid to do and what the law requires,” Leibowitz told TPM. “We went after a company [Google] where the law required us to do so, and forwent bringing a case where the law required us not to bring one.”

The FTC investigated claims as to whether Google gave itself an unfair advantage in search results and blocked sales in America of competing mobile devices. Leibowitz said all five commissioners, from both ends of the political spectrum, agreed that the evidence “militated” against an antitrust case.

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After Google and the FTC announced their settlement, many news reports painted Google as having narrowly escaped or somehow dodged an antitrust hit. However, according to TPM, Leibowitz said this isn’t an accurate portrayal of what happened:

“Reporters think of this in some ways as a horse race,” Leibowitz said of the press coverage. “[I]t’s really about doing the right thing.”

Leibowitz said that history would prove the FTC’s moves to be the right ones, but acknowledged that the agency itself may have stoked disappointment by taking on such a big target and by conducting a lengthy investigation.

“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.”

Get the full interview at TPM.

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