Turkey: Google Is Under The Spotlight Once Again

Last Updated: 17 September 2018
Article by Barış Yüksel LL.M., Fırat Eğrilmez and Gökçe Kuranel LL.M.

In August, President Donald Trump criticised technology firms including Google, Facebook and Twitter claiming that they could "represent a very antitrust situation". He tweeted that Google's news search function favoured liberal over conservative outlets, without adducing any evidence. The allegations about Google went on through the Twitter account of President Trump, where it was argued that Google censors search results and controls what people could see, read and learn. It was further argued Google presented "rigged search results". Google stated that the searching tools are designed to show the most similar results based on the users' search and the results are not biased or political.1

It should be reminded here that Donald Trump heavily criticized the recent Android decision of the European Commission2 where a record fine of approximately $5 billion was imposed on Google. President Trump blamed the EU for taking advantage of the United States by sanctioning one of its "great" companies.3

Although, one may argue that Google's falling from favour within a two months period is slightly unexpected, Google has always been a usual suspect in the US due to its stranglehold over data. In an earlier statement, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"), Joseph Simons mentioned that the agency was very interested with the record fine of Google imposed by the EU and they were closely following the case. Simons also indicated that assessing whether technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon are involved in anti-competitive practices will be a priority of the agency.4

In 2013 the FTC has investigated Google in order to determine whether Google changed its search results to exclude competitors and inhibit the competitive process.5 In the 2013 investigation, the FTC primarily focused on the allegation that Google search engine favoured its content in the downstream markets (i.e. Google's proprietary content) and that the search algorithms were manipulated to demote the websites that competed against Google's subsidiaries in the downstream markets. The FTC concluded that Google generally made these alterations to improve the quality of its search results and its analyses shown that the users benefited from these changes. After Google accepted to terminate certain practices, the case was closed without any sanctions being imposed on Google.

It seems that after five years Google may once again be portrayed as a target for the antitrust watchdog. Following Trump's recent statements, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah expressed that although Google defended that its conduct was procompetitive, a considerable time has passed and much has changed regarding Google's conduct in relation to online search and digital advertising since then.6 Hatch has asked FTC to investigate the anti-competitive impacts of Google's search and digital advertising practices and sent a letter to the FTC chairman Joseph Simons on August 30 regarding this matter.7 He argued that Google has been removing legitimate businesses that it does not approve from its platform. Hatch claimed that Google has been blocking gun sales web-sites from its shopping platform, blocking advertisements of discredited drug and alcohol treatment centres and banning YouTube channels.8

About a year ago, Senator Hatch has drawn attention to the Google Shopping Decision9, where European Commission decided to impose a €2.42 billion fine and defended Google's conduct against the Commission contrary to his current position. In this regard, Senator Hatch made the following remarks; "The ultimate inquiry should be whether consumers are better off as a result of Google's actions"10. The Google Shopping Decision mainly focused on abuse of dominance allegations regarding Google's leveraging its position in the general internet search market to favour its own its shopping comparison services. The focus of the decision was quite similar with the FTC's 2013 investigation.

Soon after the request of Senator Hatch, the FTC chairman Simons stated that the FTC will closely follow these big-tech companies which dominate online markets.11 Along with the individual efforts of President Trump and Senator Hatch, a series of hearings have been commenced to address the concerns over foreign interference to last elections in the US as well as those related with antitrust and data-protection issues. Recently, Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey was questioned before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence whereas the representative of Google did not show up since Google has offered to send its lawyer instead of its top executives and this request was rejected by the Committee.12 In response to the discontent articulated by the Committee Members13, Google issued a statement indicating that it has met with "dozens of Committee Members and briefed major Congressional Committees numerous times" over the past 18 months.14 Such behaviour of Google apparently had a negative influence on the Committee and Google seems to sail close to the wind.

After the hearing, the Department of Justice ("DoJ") announced that it could examine these companies with state attorneys general.15 The DoJ stated that the attorney general has scheduled a meeting with a number of state attorneys in September in order to discuss concerns regarding tech companies' anti-competitive conducts and their hindering the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.16

Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general for the DoJ's Antitrust Division, mentioned that he supports the DoJ meeting but emphasised that antitrust enforcers should provide "credible evidence" regarding anticompetitive conduct of the companies. Delrahim further stated "big is not bad but behaving badly is bad", signalling that the DOJ might take a prudent position on the current political commotion.17

It could be concluded that the recent conduct of Google is being closely followed by different authorities lately. The fact that the European Commission has just fined Google due to its anti-competitive practices might lead to new investigations in other jurisdictions as it raises competition law related concerns among political figures and institutions. However, there seems to be a love-hate relationship between the US and Google. While Trump protects US based tech companies when investigations initiated by the EU Commission are at stake, claiming they compete fairly, he seems to adopt a different approach when it comes to his political outlet's concerns. Although such an approach is questionable, there are serious signals that Google could be under investigation in the US soon. If an investigation is initiated, it could lead to a landmark decision which discusses whether "the protection of freedom of ideas" may be deemed as an antitrust policy goal along with "consumer welfare" and how the antitrust authorities should assess market power stemming from a stranglehold over data.


1. Please see; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-30/google-under-fire-again-on-search-as-hatch-calls-for-ftc-probe last date of visit 11.09.2017.

2. Please see; http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-4581_en.htm last date of visit 11.09.2017.

3. Please see; https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-google-antitrust-trump/trump-slams-eu-over-5-billion-fine-on-google-idUSKBN1K91YC last date of visit 11.09.2017.

4. Please see; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-18/ftc-chair-says-commission-very-interested-in-eu-s-google-fine last date of visit 11.09.2017.

5. Please see; https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/public_statements/statement-commission-regarding-googles-search-practices/130103brillgooglesearchstmt.pdf last date of visit 11.09.2017.

6. Please see; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-30/google-under-fire-again-on-search-as-hatch-calls-for-ftc-probe last date of visit 11.09.2017.

7. Please see; https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/us-senator-wants-ftc-to-investigate-google-after-trumps-bias-comments/ last date of visit 11.09.2017.

8. Please see; https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/us-senator-wants-ftc-to-investigate-google-after-trumps-bias-comments/ last date of visit 11.09.2017.

9. Please see; http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1784_en.htm last date of visit 11.09.2017.

10. Please see; https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/08/30/sen-orrin-hatch-wants-ftc-investigate-google/?utm_term=.330bb9cd977c last date of visit 11.09.2017.

11. Please see; https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/us-senator-wants-ftc-to-investigate-google-after-trumps-bias-comments/ last date of visit 11.09.2017.

12. Please see; https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/05/senate-intelligence-committee-shaming-google-alphabet-empty-chair.html last date of visit 11.09.2017.

13. Please see; https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/5/17822826/google-hearing-foreign-influence-operations-absent-facebook-twitter last date of visit 11.09.2017.

14. Please see; http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2018/09/05/google-gets-empty-chair-treatment-at-senate-intel-hearing.html last date of visit 11.09.2017.

15. Please see; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-06/trump-antitrust-chief-says-big-is-not-bad-for-tech-companies last date of visit was 11.09.2017.

16. Please see; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-06/trump-antitrust-chief-says-big-is-not-bad-for-tech-companies last date of visit 11.09.2017.

17. Please see; https://www.competitionpolicyinternational.com/us-big-is-not-bad-for-tech-companies-says-delrahim/ last date of visit 11.09.2017.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Ozdagistanli Ekici Avukatlık Ortaklığı
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Ozdagistanli Ekici Avukatlık Ortaklığı
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions