Obama’s FTC pick has sided with Google

President Obama’s pick for the Federal Trade Commission is an antitrust scholar who last year criticized the agency’s case against Google.

Joshua Wright, a professor at George Mason University School of Law wrote in an August 2011 paper that an increased interest by antitrust enforcement officials in policing competition in the high-tech industry is “dangerous, and the concerns regarding erroneous interventions should not be dismissed too lightly.”

Wright, nominated as a commissioner at the FTC on Tuesday, co-authored the paper “Google and the Limits of Antitrust: The Case Against the Case against Google,” in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

In the paper, Wright argued that there is too much uncertainty surrounding the fast-changing landscape of technology and innovation to warrant an antitrust case. The point isn’t to prove if Google is pro-competitive, he argued. Antitrust officials should instead avoid an antitrust case against Google for its dominance in search and alleged anticompetitive practices because it’s harder to prove the company is anticompetitive, he argued.

“Economic complexity and ambiguity, coupled with an insufficiently deferential approach to innovative technology and pricing practices in the most relevant case law, portend a potentially erroneous — and costly — result,” Wright argued.

Obama nominated Wright for a Republican seat at the FTC. The agency is conducting an investigation into Google’s search practices, which rivals allege have unfairly squeezed out competitors in businesses such as travel that compete with Google products.

Google is in negotiations with the European Union to change business practices after a separate antitrust investigation.

Related:

Google faces force of EU Regulators

Mobile users uninstall apps over privacy concerns

FTC appoints privacy expert as senior staffer

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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