Although a decision on whether or not to move forward with an antitrust suit against Google was expected about a month ago, it looks like the decision has been made, and that the FTC may pursue such action.
Reuters is reporting today that four out of five FTC commissioners “believe that an antitrust case should be brought against Google.” The report cites people familiar with the matter as the source. The FTC has been looking into such matters with Google for over a year, and it looks like the next stage is drawing near. Reuters’ sources indicate that a decision will come in late November or December at this point.
Our usual contact at Google for antitrust-related matters was not immediately available for comment. Update: Google has given us the same statement as it gave Reuters: “We are happy to answer any questions that regulators have about our business.”
The news is somewhat surprising given recent turns in the ongoing narrative. in August, former FTC Chairman William Kovacic made comments suggesting that the FTC would face an uphill battle in pursuing an antitrust case against Google. He was quoted as saying, “The last time the FTC prevailed in the federal courts in a standalone Section Five case was 1968. That’s a while ago. Not for want of trying, either. And one of the crippling limitations has been the (FTC’s) failure to define in a meaningful way what the key operative criteria of that standard are.”
Last month, President Obama nominated Joshua Wright to serve on the FTC, replacing Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch. Wright has written papers about, “the case against the antitrust case against Google.”
Reuters does share a comment from a Google spokesperson, who says, “We are happy to answer any questions that regulators have about our business.”