The Wall Street Journal recently published a report based on accidentally released documents about FTC’s two-year investigation into Google. The 160-page document concluded that Google’s “conduct has resulted—and will result—in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets.” I am sure Yelp and others would agree with that conclusion, and are contemplating further action.
The search results manipulation by Google has resulted in complaints that are far worse than anything FTC could have done — people have complained of declining quality and user experience. The emergence of social and mobile environments have taken some zing out of Google. Nevertheless, the WSJ report and reading through the excerpts made me wonder if there is a correlation between FTC investigation and Google’s lobbying efforts.
Since 2008, Google has spent about $69 million on the lobbying. The company has been steadily increasing its lobbying spending, according to Maplight, a project of Sunlight Foundation. After a small dip in 2013, Google’s spending hit an all time high of $16.8 million. In 2012, Google spent almost $16.2 million. It was also the year Google was under FTC investigation. FTC & Google reached a settlement in January 2013.