Fascinating look from the WSJ at a 2012 FTC staff report that recommended filing an antitrust lawsuit against Google:
In discussing one of the issues the FTC staff wanted to sue over,
the report said the company illegally took content from rival
websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor Inc. and Amazon to improve its
own websites. It cited one instance when Google copied Amazon’s
sales rankings to rank its own items. It also copied Amazon’s
reviews and ratings, the report found. A TripAdvisor spokesman
declined to comment.
When competitors asked Google to stop taking their content, Google
threatened to remove them from its search engine.
“It is clear that Google’s threat was intended to produce, and
did produce, the desired effect,” the report said, “which was to
coerce Yelp and TripAdvisor into backing down.” The company also
sent a message that it would “use its monopoly power over search
to extract the fruits of its rivals’ innovations.”
The Wall Street Journal viewed portions of the document after the
agency inadvertently disclosed it as part of a Freedom of
Information Act request. The FTC declined to release the
undisclosed pages and asked the Journal to return the document,
which it declined to do.
“Unfortunately, an unredacted version of this material was
inadvertently released in response to a FOIA request,” an FTC
spokesman said in a statement to the Journal. “We are taking steps
to ensure this does not happen again,” the statement said.