(Alexandria, VA) – One antitrust nightmare has been avoided; no more witch hunts. That’s the message from the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) on the heels of today’s announcement from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the agency had concluded its investigation of Google’s search practices. NTU, a non-partisan citizen group that has been actively involved in antitrust issues since the 1990s, praised the FTC for closing the probe while warning other agencies and government officials against pursuing similar, economically destructive actions.
“Today’s long-overdue FTC decision should bring closure to an investigation that never should have been opened in the first place,” said NTU Executive Vice President Pete Sepp. “Like many previous government forays into high-tech policy, the allegations made against Google had nothing to do with protecting consumers and much to do with mangling the marketplace on behalf of disgruntled competitors. In fact the FTC’s acknowledgement that Google aggressively competes in the marketplace should be cause for praise; that’s exactly how a vibrant economy which effectively serves consumers should work.”
Last March, an NTU-commissioned IBOPE Zogby poll of 2,007 Americans determined that 87 percent of respondents believed they could easily switch to competing search engines, while 79 percent strongly or somewhat disagreed with the idea that “the federal government should regulate the content and appearance of search engines and their results.” Seconding that strong sentiment were 101 economists on an NTU-organized statement from May; they expressed concerns about the FTC’s Google case and stated, “Policymakers should instead deploy their talents on restructuring our broken, burdensome regulatory and fiscal management systems in order to foster strong competition and economic growth into the future.”
Sepp also cautioned against attempts to resurrect the now-thoroughly examined issues surrounding search competition through another venue, such as the Justice Department, state Attorneys General, or even the courts. He noted that in the Microsoft case during the late 1990s and early 2000s, state officials unnecessarily prolonged antitrust proceedings, costing consumers, shareholders, and the overall economy a great deal through pointless legal wrangling and lost opportunities for product development.
“Government officials must carefully consider the damage they do to technological innovation, economic productivity, and consumer choice when they stage regulatory rampages against successful firms like Google,” Sepp concluded. “All who believe in strong, open competition should applaud this decision and remind policymakers at all levels – from the Justice Department to State Attorney General offices – that consumers and taxpayers are fed up with agencies that waste time and money on meritless claims. Venue-shopping won’t serve the public interest, nor will it serve our still-fragile economy.”
NTU is a nonpartisan citizen group working for lower taxes, limited government, and economic freedom at all levels. NTU has a long history of advocating for a sensible federal approach toward economic competition that carefully limits interventions in the marketplace to clear and imminent cases of direct harm to consumers. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, NTU was a leading grassroots participant in the antitrust debate from the conservative community. For more information visit www.ntu.org.