FTC Concludes Investigation Into Google's Search Practices, Finds Nothing Much Wrong There. Hey, Google It If You Don't Believe It!

The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Google's practices in regard to patent licensing, search results and other matters for about two years.  The FTC sought to determine if Google's practices in these regards were anti-competitive.  The FTC ended their investigation the first week of this year and entered into an agreement with Google in exchange for the FTC agreeing not to pursue the matter further.

Part of the analysis by the FTC was a investigation into whether Google manipulated its search algorithms such that websites that competed with Google's "vertical" results (i.e. sponsored Google sites) were moved down in the search results with concomitant  damages to the click through rate to such competing sites.  The FTC found that even though "...some of Google’s rivals may have lost sales due to an improvement (sic) in Google’s product...(t)he totality of the evidence indicates that, in the main, Google adopted the design changes that the Commission investigated to improve the quality of its search results, and that any negative impact on actual or potential competitors was incidental to that purpose."  The Commission went on to say "...these changes to Google’s search algorithm could reasonably be viewed as improving the overall quality of Google’s search results because the first search page now presented the user with a greater diversity of websites."

Needless to say, not all were enamored with the FTC's actions.  Microsoft, having been kicked around by the FTC for years, bemoaned the actions as "weak"Others found it to be totally justified.

Whatever your view, this is a win for Google and clears up their docket to proceed with their pursuit of world domination.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The Seven Things The FTC Thinks You Need To Know About The CAN-SPAM Act.

If you use e-mail as advertising, you could be subject to the CAN-SPAM Act.  The FTC wants you to know how to comply.  Give it a look:


Red Flag Rule Appears In Your Town June 1

Although not strictly a technology related matter, all business and organizations that provide products and services to their customers and then bill them later should be aware that the Federal Trade Commission has a “Red Flag” rule that goes into effect (after several delays) on June 1, 2010.
You should first determine if your business is covered by this rule. If your business is covered, this rule provides that you must implement a written Identity Theft Prevention Program that is designed to detect the warning signs (hence “Red Flags”) of identity theft.
A copy of the rule may be found here. However, a shorter, more user friendly version may be found here.  Businesses that are at low risk for identity theft (e.g. you know your client individually, such as a neighborhood medical practice; you provide services around the home, such as a cleaning or lawn service; or your business has a low incident of identity theft) may implement a do-it-yourself program by following a FTC approved template that can be found here.
There is no private right of action under the rule (i.e. your customers may not sue you under the rule), however, they could complain to the FTC and the FTC can seek civil penalties (up to $3,500 per violation) and injunctive relief.