Ina Fried

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Google to FTC: Bring It On

Google on Friday staked out its position in what could be a long antitrust battle over how the company conducts its core business.

The company confirmed in a regulatory filing that it has indeed received a subpoena from the Federal Trade Commission. In a blog post, Google laid out how it sees things.

“At Google, we’ve always focused on putting the user first,” the company said in the post, written by Amit Singhal, one of the key creators of Google’s search business. “We aim to provide relevant answers as quickly as possible — and our product innovation and engineering talent have delivered results that users seem to like, in a world where the competition is only one click away.”

Singhal notes that Google is aware that its success would lead to greater scrutiny, but argues that everything it has done has been for the benefit of users, rather than to reduce competition. Singhal promises the company will aid in the inquiry.

“It’s still unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are, but we’re clear about where we stand,” he said. “Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that, if we focus on the user, all else will follow.”

It’s worth a read, as I suspect this is a topic we are going to be hearing a ton about in the coming months.

Here’s the full blog post:

At Google, we’ve always focused on putting the user first. We aim to provide relevant answers as quickly as possible — and our product innovation and engineering talent have delivered results that users seem to like, in a world where the competition is only one click away. Still, we recognize that our success has led to greater scrutiny. Yesterday, we received formal notification from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it has begun a review of our business. We respect the FTC’s process and will be working with them (as we have with other agencies) over the coming months to answer questions about Google and our services.

It’s still unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are, but we’re clear about where we stand. Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that, if we focus on the user, all else will follow. No matter what you’re looking for — buying a movie ticket, finding the best burger nearby, or watching a royal wedding — we want to get you the information you want as quickly as possible. Sometimes the best result is a link to another website. Other times it’s a news article, sports score, stock quote, a video or a map.

Instant answers. New sources of knowledge. Powerful tools — all for free. In just 13 years we’ve built a model that has changed the way people find answers and helped businesses both large and small create jobs and connect with new customers.

Search helps you go anywhere and discover anything, on an open Internet. Using Google is a choice — and there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information: other general-interest search engines, specialized search engines, direct navigation to websites, mobile applications, social networks, and more.

Because of the many choices available to you, we work constantly on making search better, and will continue to follow the principles that have guided us from the beginning:

  • Do what’s best for the user. We make hundreds of changes to our algorithms every year to improve your search experience. Not every website can come out at the top of the page, or even appear on the first page of our search results.

  • Provide the most relevant answers as quickly as possible. Today, when you type “weather in Chicago” or “how many feet in a mile” into our search box, you get the answers directly — often before you hit “enter.” And we’re always trying to figure out new ways to answer even more complicated questions just as clearly and quickly. Advertisements offer useful information, too, which is why we also work hard to ensure that our ads are relevant to you.
  • Label advertisements clearly. Google always distinguishes advertisements from our organic search results. As we experiment with new ad formats and new types of content, we will continue to be transparent about what is an ad and what isn’t.
  • Be transparent. We share more information about how our rankings work than any other search engine, through our Webmaster Central site, blog, diagnostic tools, support forum, and YouTube. We also give advertisers detailed information about the ad auction and tips to improve their ad quality scores. We’ve recently introduced even more transparency tools, announcing a major change to our algorithm, providing more notice when a website is demoted due to spam violations, and giving advertisers new information about ads that break our rules.
  • Loyalty, not lock-in. We firmly believe you control your data, so we have a team of engineers whose only goal is to help you take your information with you. We want you to stay with us because we’re innovating and making our products better — not because you’re locked in.

These are the principles that guide us, and we know they’ll stand up to scrutiny. We’re committed to giving you choices, ensuring that businesses can grow and create jobs, and, ultimately, fostering an Internet that benefits us all.


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