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.