DOJ Antitrust Chief Recuses Herself From Google ITA discussions

Having worked for the law firm representing ITA - the travel software company Google is seeking to purchase - Christine Varney, the U.S. Justice Department's top antitrust official, recused herself from the proceedings.

Companies working in the travel industry are claiming Google's purchase of ITA could cause problems for them - allowing Google to deal directly with the airlines when flight searches are done.

"The FairSearch.org coalition, which includes Google rival Microsoft, Expedia Inc. , Kayak.com and others, has argued that Google now provides over 30% of all search engine traffic to online travel sites.

Google has called that claim misleading, and has argued that its own data show that it's responsible for only about 8% of all traffic to the top ten travel sites." MarketWatch reported.

"We search before we buy vacation travel and accommodations, we search for last minute deals or long term booking advantages when we travel for work - and the majority of these searches obviously start with Google or use it for additional information. With that type of edge Google could quickly dominate the space," SEW reported last year.

"When Varney was appointed by President Barack Obama as Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ's Antitrust Division, expectations were high for her to take a hard line on Google, which she had publicly referred to as "a monopoly," MarketWatch noted.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.