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Big Tech search wars could attract attention from FTC’s new outfit

The news: On Friday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an Office of Technology to provide more tech industry oversight.

  • The move will more than double the number of tech experts the FTC has on staff, to over 20 technologists, per The Washington Post.
  • By hiring staff with skills in security, software, data science, and AI, the FTC hopes it will keep pace with tech industry innovation and opaque algorithms.
  • FTC chief technology officer Stephanie Nguyen told the Post that the fresh talent could help the agency refine its subpoenas and reach settlements that get closer to “the root cause of the harm.”

An antitrust wild card: The FTC’s reinforcements come at a time of heightened regulatory appetite aimed at Big Tech.

Google, which has been under fierce antitrust scrutiny for years, might see a silver lining in Microsoft’s generative AI Bing integration.

  • For over two decades, Google has dominated search, reaching nearly 93% of the global market share, according to StatCounter, per Insider— making it a prime antitrust target.
  • With the rise of AI-powered Bing, Google might use it as evidence of diminished market standing in court cases.

Whether a disrupted search market will play to Google’s regulatory advantage will depend in part on how well Bing performs.

  • Microsoft will have to convince a critical mass of users that its product is better than Google’s Bard.
  • The outcome is questionable. Reports of Bing’s bot berating some users, expressing love for others, and saying it yearns to be human run wildly out of bounds.
  • We expect that generative AI bots will have ongoing issues with accuracy and appropriateness, but the Bing bungle gives Google a chance to reaffirm its search authority.

Search playing field opens: Antitrust cases aren’t Google’s only concern on the AI front. The FTC could also take aim at the technology over inaccuracy, bias, copyright infringement, digital privacy lapses, and cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

  • This bodes well for generative AI search startups like Neeva,, Perplexity, Andi, and Metaphor that aren’t facing antitrust scrutiny. They have a chance to offer AI search tools with competitive features and tighter safety controls.
  • Apple could also use the search competition as an opportunity to start a bidding war between Google and Microsoft over status as the default search engine for iOS.
  • However, if scrutiny by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority over Google allegedly sharing search revenue with Apple results in repercussions, Microsoft might reap the benefits.

Dive deeper: Learn more about the generative AI market in our Data Drop: 5 Charts You Need to Make Sense of Generative AI Now.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Connectivity & Tech Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the technology industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.