Your paper should be 8-10 pages single or 1.5 spaced. Longer papers are also OK. There should be a short abstract, introduction where you explain what the topic is and the main questions to be addressed, the main analysis where you carry out the analysis, and conclusions or discussion (where you give your own opinion on the subject and for example the current state of affairs following the antitrust case if that is your topic). The main analysis may be split to more than one sections if you feel it is appropriate. For example one could be theoretical analysis and the other empirical analysis, or if you are writing about an antitrust case, economic theory and legal case. You should have two or more references. One reference could be the DOJ site. Online or even Wikipedia references are OK for recent developments. You can reference the textbook as well. One of your references should be a published research paper.
For your topic, choose a firm or an industry that was subject to antitrust or regulation and write about it. For example you may expand on the topic of your class presentation. Please note that the presentation papers may be somewhat dated and a good paper would supplement that analysis with more on what has happened since the case. For example when it comes to NCAA in addition to the case in the paper there is also NCAA vs Alston and its aftermath. Another example, you may write about whether Amazon should be broken up and the current antitrust cases against it in the US and Europe. But that is more difficult subject.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission Investigation of Google Search (2013)
Inevitably, Google closely affiliates with the internet since it is a major constituent of the modern information economy.
In the first half of 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened an investigation of issues raised through the official letter sent by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights.
The accusations stated that Google practices preferential placement in search engines to downsize competitors, uses data acquired without substantial compensation of third parties, and imposes contractual restrictions when licensing application interface information for AdWords (Gilbert, 2017).
Measuring and regulating search bias
Since there are no collective objective criteria of relevance in the search query for ranking websites, there is no ideal baseline to evaluate Google’s search “display neutrality.”
Besides, it is established that queries do not have universal requests, allowing Google and other search engines to produce outcomes reliant on diverse innovative qualitative and quantitative factors.
Search optimization is adopted to enhance the position in the search engine results page (SERP) (Gilbert, 2017).
In this case, labeling content as proprietary or sponsored does not apply in remedying display bias and allegations as the concerns focus on Google’s conduct in search.
Market power and the incentives for search neutrality
The FTC highlighted that Google’s search triggers traffic loss to competitors in two-sided internet search but lacks quantification of profitable bias in SERP by Google.
Further, it was not established how one or more vertical services ought to be assessed as distinct markets from general search due to the blur caused by the evolution of universal search displays (Gilbert, 2017).
It is difficult to harm competition in vertical services through search bias when the entities are cost-effective in connecting with target clients or advertisers on Google SERP.
Thus, it is purportedly flawed to assert that competition is one click away since Google is often the preferred starting point for any search and earns from clicks on advertisements, particularly through AdWords and AdSense.
The Federal Trade Commission verdict and the role of innovation
The FTC investigation entailed document reviews, interviews, presentations from interested parties, empirical analysis, as well as parallel legal probes.
The FTC found that Google used its dominance in search to give preferential treatment to its products and services but also associated the changes with the quality improvement of Google’s search algorithm.
With an emphasis on the pro-competitive effects of Google’s design changes, FTC identified that it is reasonable for search results designs to differ, making it difficult to uphold the allegations (Gilbert, 2017).
Therefore, Google’s effect on competitors was incidental implications of innovations made to improve Google’s products and services.
The European Commission investigation of Google search
The formal antitrust investigation was initiated on November 30, 2010, by Goundem, a website offering vertical search (Gilbert, 2017).
The issues highlighted by EC concerning Google’s business practices included preferential treatment of vertical services owned by Google and copying content from competing for vertical search services without acknowledgments.
Also, there were issues of agreements forcing third-party websites to rely primarily on Google for online search adverts and imposing restrictions on the portability of online search advertising campaigns in AdWords and Ad Sense against rivals.
The preliminary view and supplementary statement of objections by EC were that Google should accord similar shopping services with those of their competitors, prompting it to portray comparison shopping services based on client query and relevance.
Also, Google had to pay 2.42 billion euros or $2.7 billion for violating its dominant position in search and favoring its shopping services (Gilbert, 2017).
Notably, respecting the principle of “simple” equal treatment advocated by EC is complex to implement at Google when comparing its whopping products with those of rivals.
In retaliation, Google filed a formal appeal with the European Union General Court in 2017 seeking annulment of the guidelines by the commission, but the court lacks a reputation for responding timely to appeals.
Overall, it is arguable that Google’s search practices and innovation incentives often deprive rival power by favoring its properties and services.
The purported assertion is that a monopoly by Google will suppress innovation in other vertical search-based services but also advocates that Google should be allowed to apprehend product improvements despite the harm caused to rivals.
In establishing the decision, the FTC balanced the advantages of Google’s innovation with disincentives expressed by its competitors.
With the complexity and fast technological advancements, FTC and EC are not explicitly unexpected to convey universal decisions that Google should be a neutral platform for sponsored advertisements and organic search results.
Gilbert, R. (2017). US Federal Trade Commission Investigation of Google Search (2013). Forthcoming, The Antitrust Revolution, John E. Kwoka, Jr. and Lawrence J. White (eds), Oxford University Press,.
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