SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Staff at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission were in favour of suing Google Inc for violating antitrust rules before the agency settled its investigation in 2013, according a confidential report cited by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
The report by the staff of the FTC’s competition bureau argued that the owner of the world’s No. 1 Internet search engine illegally took information from rival websites to improve its own search results and placed restrictions on websites and advertisers. The report recommended suing Google for several of its business practices.
The FTC settled its multi-year investigation of Google in 2013, concluding that the company had not manipulated its search results to hurt rivals.
Details of the report, which the Journal said were inadvertently disclosed in an open-records request, come as European antitrust regulators decide their next steps in a four-year investigation of Google.
Representatives of the FTC and Google did not immediately return requests for comment.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Dan Grebler)