It seems like just yesterday that Google won the approval of the Justice Department to go forward with its acquisition of ITA Software, a deal Google’s competitors tried aggressively (but unsuccessfully) to see blocked. In fact, it was only last month.
Now, Google may be headed for further investigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Over what you ask? Well, over the company’s dominance in search of course.
Bloomberg, citing “people familiar with the matter,” reports that the FTC is prepping an investigation by alerting companies to gather info for the probe. Jeff Bliss and Sara Forden report:
The agency told the companies that it plans to issue so- called civil investigative demands for the information, said the people, who requested anonymity because the FTC hasn’t made the matter public. The demands are similar to subpoenas.
The FTC, which has been considering a broad investigation, waited until the Justice Department concluded its own review of Mountain View, California-based Google’s acquisition of ITA Software Inc., two people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. The Justice Department on April 9 approved Google’s $700 million purchase of ITA on the condition it makes travel data available to search-engine rivals and lets the government review complaints that it’s acting unfairly.
Of course Google has not commented on the matter.
Upon the DoJ’s decision on the ITA deal, FairSearch spun story as a win for itself and consumers, given the stipulations Google was to adhere to to gain approval. The organization also implied that it was far from done.
“Consumers won this round, but we must remain vigilant,” FairSearch said in a statement. “Online competition remains at risk across travel and other economically-significant vertical markets of search, information and online and mobile commerce. The Internet has been a powerful source of innovation, consumer benefits, jobs, and economic growth, and we need to ensure that it continues to live up to its full potential. Google has shown a healthy appetite to expand and exclude competition. Given its past behavior, ongoing scrutiny is essential to ensure that Google adheres to its judicial obligations under the decree and to ensure more generally that consumers and competitive markets are protected.”
One thing that about this that is particularly interesting is that Microsoft is part of FairSearch, which has actually teamed up with the only other major competitor to Google (in terms of search), and that Microsoft itself has long been the target of such anti-competitive matters.