In the fall of 2012 the staff at the Federal Trade Commission had concluded that Google had engaged in unfair competition by favoring its own services over those of its competitors. As the Wall Street Journalreported, the staff had recommended a major fine: “The 160-page critique, which was supposed to remain private but was inadvertently disclosed in an open-records request, concluded that Google’s ‘conduct has resulted — and will result — in real harm to consumers.’ ”
But Google was never penalized, because the political appointees overrode the staff recommendation, an action rarely taken by the FTC. The Journal pointed out that Google, whose executives donated more money to the Obama campaign than any company, had held scores of meetings at the White House between the time the staff filed its report and the ultimate decision to drop the enforcement action.
This week, the European Union’s antitrust authorities fined Google a record $2.7 billion for the exact same sort of infractions that the FTC staff had been reviewing. Why were Europeans more willing to combat Big Tech monopolies than Americans?