U.S. regulators on Thursday closed a long-running investigation of Google with a relatively mild agreement that is likely to disappoint rivals and critics of the Web search giant.
Under the agreement, Google agreed to end the practice of "scraping" reviews and other data from rivals' websites for its own products, and to allow advertisers to export data to independently evaluate advertising campaigns, the Federal Trade Commission said.
FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said Google also agreed to license standard patents on "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms."
At a press conference, Leibowitz said that the Commission had scoured through some 9 million pages of documents and taken sworn testimony from key Google executives on the way to resolving its investigation in a "sensible" fashion.
"This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements," he said.
The FTC defended itself from likely criticism that it had gone too soft on Google.
Reuters reported in December that Google's critics, anticipating a weak conclusion to the FTC's investigation, may be ready to take their grievances to the Justice Department.
"Even though people would like us to bring a big search bias case, the facts aren't there," Leibowitz said, adding that it was "mistaken" for Google's critics to think that criticizing the FTC's deliberations might benefit them in other jurisdictions.
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