Google Inc.’s Internet search industry domination will be probed, said some insiders. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will seek other high-tech companies’ cooperation and will be sending civil investigative demands to these companies. The FTC planned the investigation but lingered until the Justice Department’s of Google’s acquisition of ITA Software Inc. review was over. Approval for Google’s ITA purchase for $700 million was granted by the Justice Department on April 9. That is, if travel data is made accessible to search-engine competitors and reviews for any complaints are permitted.
New York University professor Eleanor Fox said the probe could be significant and could be Google following the path of Microsoft in reference to a similar probe by the Justice Department on Microsoft which is to be concluded next month. As Google strengthens its search business, regulators increasingly wish to investigate. Texas and European Commission leaders have started a probe while Attorney General Mike DeWine of Ohio may follow suit.
New York law school professor James Grimmelmann said it may be hard for the FTC to file a case against Google because their search results are better hence its market share. Nevertheless, added Grimmelmann, Google may still have made some violations in controlling the market and may earn an antitrust lawsuit from the FTC. He cited a Skyhook Wireless lawsuit filed against Google for allegedly pressuring Motorola Inc. and other Skyhook customers against the use of their software in disclosing a mobile phone’s location.
Information industries scholar Timothy Wu of the FTC said no dominant Internet company should control multiple markets. The FTC added Edward Felten in its roster as technology chief is a famed digital-copyright cracker. Republican Thomas Rosch is an Internet-search industry dominant player probe supporter who is the only FTC commissioner who openly said it is just to conduct an investigation. Hearings have been already started by Republican Utah Senator Mike Lee.
Rivals of Google like Microsoft Corp., Expedia Inc. and Kayak.com have united and formed FairSearch.com to resist Google’s ITA acquisition. ITA is a data software provider for online travel sites like Orbitz Worldwide Inc. FairSearch.com said the deal between Google and ITA would shrink competition. They seek conditions to be set by the Justice Department regarding the deal.
Santa Monica Consumer Watchdog advocate John Simpson said the probe is long overdue for Google, the century’s Standard Oil Company. The European investigation is to prove if Google differentiates itself from rivals by impeding rivals’ ads acceptance by websites. The probe may include online video and mobile phones after Microsoft’s complaint last month.
Original Source: Bloomberg News