As of Wednesday, Google can revert to its old practice of scraping content from third-party sites like Yelp and using it on their own search results pages. But the tech giant insists it will stick to an agreement it made with the Federal Trade Commission, even though it just expired.
Google agreed in 2012, as part of a major antitrust settlement with the U.S., to let sites opt out of web crawling, a practice that websites complained allowed Google to unfairly make money off of another company’s content such as photos and user reviews. Google also says it will continue to give third-party search websites, like Bing, access Google’s AdWords application programming interface.
Google will stick to the now-expired agreement, according to a letter to the FTC and a blog post from Matthew Sucherman, deputy general counsel for Google LLC. The key nugget in the letter: “We believe that these policies provide additional flexibility for developers and websites, and we will continue them as policies after the commitments expire.”
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Websites can opt out of having content that Google has crawled from their sites displayed on various Google properties, including Google Shopping, Google Flights, Google Hotels and in specialized search results pages that trigger in response to a local query.
That doesn’t mean websites trust Google. Yelp, for instance, complained to the FTC in September that Google had violated the agreement and was using Yelp photos for local business listings in its search results.