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Google FTC Antitrust Probe Rumors Emerge as ITA Verdict Nears

Danny Goodwin
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Google could face a major U.S. Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation after the Justice Department completes its review of Google's acquisition of travel software developer ITA Software and determines whether to challenge or impose restrictions on the deal, Bloomberg reports.

The ITA deal has faced fierce opposition since the October formation of FairSearch.org, made up of Microsoft and other travel sites. The group believes this deal, if allowed, will give Google an unfair competitive advantage and cripple the online travel industry.

The FTC and Justice Department both oversee antitrust investigations, so it seems the outcome of the ITA deal will determine which agency would handle a larger investigation of Google's business practices. Just last week, Google settled its case with the FTC over Buzz, a deal which forces Google to submit to biannual privacy audits for 20 years.

The FTC has previously reviewed and approved Google's acquisitions of AdMob and DoubleClick. Bloomberg noted that "FTC Commissioner Thomas Rosch said in an interview last month he supported a probe of the dominant players in the Internet-search industry."

Ohio and Wisconsin are reportedly considering their own antitrust probes, while Google is already facing investigations from Texas and the European Union.

In addition, two senators, Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, have announced plans to look into whether Google's competitors are being treated unfairly in Google's search rankings or their ability to buy search advertising.


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