Google’s mantra is famously “don’t be evil.” But is it possible to be as big as Google is without being evil? Apparently, government regulators have their doubts. According to Bloomberg, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering launching “a broad antitrust investigation” into Google that will specifically target the company’s dominance of the Internet search industry.
The FTC investigation of Google could be of similar scale to the Justice Department’s antitrust probes that targeted Microsoft a decade ago. Those investigations resulted in a judgment that found Microsoft to be in violation of antitrust laws in the U.S. A European court reached a similar conclusion shortly thereafter.
News of potential FTC action comes as the Mountain View-based company is already receiving pressure from Europe and from U.S. states which are said to be considering their own investigations into Google’s practices. Last week, Microsoft filed a complaint with the European Commission detailing a range of antitrust grievances against Google. Microsoft specifically mentioned the company’s dominance of the Internet search industry as a major concern. The state of Texas has reportedly already begun its own investigation into Google’s dominance.
The FTC has made little secret that it has an interest in Google. FTC Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch told Politico that four of the Internet’s largest companies are using their leverage to stifle competition. Google was reportedly the first company that Rosch mentioned.
Google is standing by its practices. “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,” said Adam Kovacevich, a Google spokesman, in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg. “We built Google for users, not websites.”
Fighting any action against the FTC would likely prove an expensive operation even for a company as large as Google.
According to the Bloomberg report, before deciding to take action against Google, the FTC will wait for the Department of Justice to conclude its investigation into Google’s planned acquisition of ITA Software.
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