Google, Unshackled By FTC Agreement, Still Won’t Scrape

Google said in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday (Dec. 27) that it will continue to allow websites to opt out from their data being scraped and displayed in its search results, despite the expiration of their commitment to do so.

In a letter to the FTC, Google said that while its agreement with the FTC – which was entered into on Dec. 27 of 2012 – is set to expire on Wednesday, the internet search giant plans to maintain the practices it agreed to in that voluntary commitment. Google agreed to not use third-party content, such as images and reviews from parties that opted out, a practice known as “scraping.”

“We believe that these policies provide additional flexibility for developers and websites, and we will continue them as policies after the commitments expire,” Google wrote. “As part of our ongoing efforts to communicate with developers and websites, Google will make an announcement in a blog post and include on its support pages Google’s continuation of its current practices regarding the AdWords API terms and conditions and the domain-by-domain opt-out.”

The announcement comes as Yelp has been claiming Google didn’t stop scraping its data. In September, the online reviews company said the search engine broke its promise to stop using content from third-party websites without their permission. Yelp, who has previously requested that Google stop scraping from its site, demanded that the FTC reopen that 2012 Google case “immediately.” Yelp has become a vocal critic of Google, largely because it believes the company uses its power to prevent other competitors from thriving.

The most recent claim also comes as Google is appealing the tech regulation fine dealt by the European Union for engaging in anticompetitive behavior with its product search comparison tool, reported TechCrunch. The EU ruling, in which Google was fined a record $2.73 billion for giving its own service “an illegal advantage by abusing its dominance in general internet search,” is being appealed by Google parent company Alphabet with hopes it will be overturned.

The report pointed to the fact that earlier in September, the European Court of Justice, Europe’s top court, ruled that a lower court needs to review an appeal by Intel over a separate antitrust case, which is emboldening Google in its appeal.



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