Google has agreed to change some of its business practices, including allowing competitors access to some standardized technologies, to resolve a U.S. Federal Trade Commission antitrust complaint against the company.
Google has also agreed to give online advertisers more flexibility to manage advertising campaigns on Google's AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms, the FTC said Thursday. Google has also agreed to stop some of its "most troubling" search practices, including scraping Web content from rivals and allegedly passing it off as its own, said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.
Google has agreed to allow competitors access to standards-essential patents the company acquired along with its purchase of Motorola Mobility in 2012, the FTC said.
The FTC began investigating Google for antitrust violations in its search and advertising businesses in mid-2011. The agency reportedly has looked into Google's relationship with Android handset makers and whether Google favors its own services in search results.
In December 2011, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, and Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, asked the FTC to look into whether Google listed its products and services first in search results. Other lawmakers have urged the FTC to tread carefully in a dynamic tech industry.
Google competitors, including Microsoft, Oracle and other members of the FairSearch.org coalition, have accused Google of search "discrimination" by manipulating search results. Google has also used its dominance to force competitors out of the search marketplace, the group has said.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.