FTC Set to Hit Google with Antitrust Complaint

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-05-02 Print this article Print

Barnett also promised FairSearch.org will continue to argue for such an inquiry on behalf of companies concerned.

While Microsoft, FairSearch.org and others may be legally obligated to feed the FTC information about Google's position in the search market, they would add to a growing glut of antitrust scrutiny against Google in the United States and abroad.

The European Commission began scrutinizing Google last November based on allegations from Foundem, eJustice and Microsoft's Ciao that the search engine surfaces links for its own Web services over those of the smaller comparison-shopping engines on Google.com.

The Commission is also looking into allegations that Google lowered the quality score for sponsored links from competing search services and whether Google prevented ad partners from placing competing ads from some vendors on their Websites.

Microsoft joined this cause in March, arguing that Google restricts other search engines from properly cataloging YouTube videos in search results and that Google prevents those YouTube videos from running well on Windows Phones, among other complaints.

Texas State Attorney General Gregg Abbott ignited his own antitrust investigation against Google in February when he asked for info on Google's ad pricing, shopping search, and the ranking of Websites in search results and ad listings.

He also wants Google documents that show "manual overriding or altering of" search result rankings. Meanwhile, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is said to be weighing his own probe.

Eleanor Fox, a law professor at New York University, told Bloomberg that an FTC antitrust investigation into Google would be a serious matter that could paint "Google as the next Microsoft."

Microsoft potentially pumping the FTC with cannon fodder for its investigation versus Google blankets the matter in irony. 


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