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Bloomberg: U.S. Federal Trade Commission Prepping Google Investigation

Antitrust authorities at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission are preparing to investigate Google’s dominance of Internet search, Bloomberg reports, a move that FairSearch members would applaud and stand ready to assist in any way that they can.

The FTC has told high tech companies that it will issue civil investigative demands (CIDs) – subpoena-like requests for information, according to Bloomberg. The agency has been considering a broad review of Google, but waited until the Justice Department finished its review of Google’s acquisition of ITA Software, the article says. The ITA review resulted in the first-ever judicial decree (proposed for court approval) on Google by U.S. antitrust authorities, and a five-year period of Justice Department reviews of any complaints about Google’s business practices in online travel.

If the FTC under chairman Jon Leibowitz opens a broad investigation into Google’s power over many sectors of the Internet through its dominance of search, the review would likely address some of the concerns raised by the American Antitrust Institute (AAI), which said of the DOJ’s decision in ITA:

“If this merger does enable Google to monopolize the meta-search engine market, this could help raise barriers to entry into the overall general search market. Google already has a monopoly position in this market, and any merger that might help protect or enhance this monopoly is a serious cause for concern.”

Regulators cannot let that happen. For the benefit of consumers and to maintain competition in Internet search and services, regulators must keep up their scrutiny of Google’s practices.