The Federal Trade Commission's (“FTC” or “the commission”) January 3, 2013 decision to close its longstanding investigation of Google1 brings to a close a flurry of discussion over the possibility that Google could become subject to a “search neutrality” principle in the United States. Although the Commission found against Google on several grounds, it rejected petitions from Google's critics to create a search neutrality principle as a matter of antitrust law. This essay briefly analyzes what remains of U.S. antitrust scrutiny of Internet search bias after the Google settlement. In particular, it suggests that a sensible line can be drawn between promotion of a search engine's own properties and demotion of rival properties. Although distinctions of this kind are inherently slippery, in this case the distinction should serve well enough. As of this writing, the wild card remains the European Commission, which may yet upset the applecart.
Crane, Daniel A. "After Search Neutrality: Drawing a Line Between Promotion and Demotion." I/S: J. L. & Pol'y for Info. Soc'y 9, no. 3 (2014): 397-406.