Hot on the heels of Microsoft adding its own complaint to the existing four month European Commission anti-trust complaint against Google. Bloomberg recently reported that the internet search monolith may soon be facing yet another anti-trust probe, this time from US federal authorities.
According to Bloomberg’s sources, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an agency tasked with consumer protection and the regulation of harmful business practices — may investigate Google. The FTC is currently waiting for word from the US Department of Justice on before taking action against Google’s US$700-million acquisition of flight software company ITA Software. According to Google the acquisition will “benefit passengers, airlines and online travel agencies by making it easier for users to comparison shop for flights and airfares”. However fairsearch.org, a group of businesses who have formed an alliance to lobby against the deal, and others contend it constitutes a danger to the thriving US$80-billion a year online travel business.
However this new probe being considered by the FTC would be of a far wider scope, similar to that which Microsoft infamously faced nearly a decade ago. According to Boston University School of Law antitrust professor, Keith Hylton, quoted in Bloomberg — if Google were to fight any upcoming FTC investigation, it would, “cost a lot of money and time”.
The main contention of this probe would be that as Google acquires more secondary services beyond its primary service — its search engine — which places its services at the top of all searches (for example searching for “maps,” ranks Google Maps tops). This would be considered an unfair business practice.
This would be similar to the Microsoft ruling which found that by bundling Internet Explorer with its primary product the Windows operating system, Microsoft had won the so-called “Browser Wars” of the late 90s through unfair business practices.