Less than a week after Google reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over its Google Buzz privacy debacle comes a report that the FTC is ready to probe the internet giant once more, this time over antitrust concerns regarding its search engine.
One of the five FTC commissioners has already publicly stated that he supports an antitrust probe into the companies that dominate the search engine market. And though he didn’t name names, it’s obvious that Google, being the world’s largest search engine, would receive the most scrutiny if such a probe were to happen.
Now Bloomberg News reports that the only thing holding back the FTC from moving forward with a probe is the Justice Dept’s antitrust investigation of Google’s pending purchase of ITA Software. There are concerns that such an acquisition would threaten competition in the travel info search market.
There is a slim possibility, writes Bloomberg, that the DOJ review could expand into a larger, more general antitrust investigation of Google’s search engine business. If so, that would negate any need for a separate FTC probe.
Google is already under the antitrust microscope here in the U.S. — the state of Texas is investigating the company, the Attorney General of Ohio is considering a probe, and several Senators have called for a Judiciary subcomittee hearing — and in Europe, where Microsoft filed a complaint regarding Google’s search engine dominance.
A rep for Google pish-poshes all this antitrust talk, telling Bloomberg, “Since competition is one click away on the Internet, we work hard to put our users’ interests first and give them the best, most relevant answers to their queries… We built Google for users, not websites.”