DOJ approves Google's ITA purchase with conditions

DOJ approves Google's ITA purchase with conditions

Summary: The Department of Justice approved Google's purchase of travel data provider ITA Software with conditions. Specifically, the DOJ will require Google to develop and license travel software, firewall data and continue to develop ITA products.

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The Department of Justice approved Google's purchase of travel data provider ITA Software with conditions. Specifically, the DOJ will require Google to develop and license travel software, firewall data and continue to develop ITA products.

In a statement, the DOJ said that the settlement with Google will "protect competition for airfare comparison and booking websites" and allow ITA to "power their websites to compete against any airfare website Google may introduce." Google also announced that its $700 million ITA purchase was approved and said it would let ITA customers extend their contracts to 2016.

According to the DOJ, Google's initial ITA acquisition would have cut competition for flight search Web sites. ITA is the leading player in airfare pricing systems.

If there's a problem with this Google-ITA arrangement the search giant will be required to go through arbitration.

Here's a look at the requirements in more detail: Google has to license ITA's software. Google will be requited "to continue to license ITA’s QPX software to airfare websites on commercially reasonable terms." QPX searches for fares, schedules and flight availability. Google will have to develop ITA's next-gen product dubbed InstaSearch.

Build a firewall. The DOJ said:

Google will be required to implement firewall restrictions within the company that prevent unauthorized use of competitively sensitive information and data gathered from ITA’s customers. The proposed settlement delineates when and for what purpose that data may be used by Google.

Share the data and formalize a complaint procedure. The DOJ said Google is also prohibited from entering into agreements with airlines that would restrict information flow to competitors. The proposed settlement provides for a formal reporting mechanism for complainants.

The terms set an interesting blueprint for future Google deals, but it remains to be seen how these restrictions work in practice. Google also agreed to privacy audits to settle an FTC investigation. A likely scenario is that competitors to ITA are going to look more valuable to airlines in the future.

Fairsearch.org, a group that opposed the Google-ITA deal, said in a statement:

Today’s decision by the Justice Department to challenge Google’s acquisition of ITA Software is a clear win for consumers. The Department concluded Google’s unrestricted control over ITA’s key flight search technology would have violated the antitrust laws. By putting in place strong, ongoing oversight and enforcement tools, the Department has ensured that consumers will continue to benefit from vibrant competition and innovation in travel search. While this enforcement action is an important victory, Google's abuse of its search dominance still threatens competition and consumers in many critical areas of online services.

Related:

Google's girth means no deal happens easily

Google sets sights on skies with acquisition of flight info site

Topics: Security, Browser, Enterprise Software, Google, Legal, Networking, Software Development

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13 comments
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  • RE: DOJ approves Google's ITA purchase OK with conditions

    Nice, I welcome Google, our travelling overlords.
    tatiGmail
    • I look forward to it being easier to get pricing information and book

      flights!!!! Great to have conditions clearly spelled out so that Google can not do anything heavy handed.
      DonnieBoy
  • I'm sure Google's not happy, but a definite win for consumers!

    I'm sure their throwing some chairs around at the Googleplex, but great to see that competition will be maintained!

    Only the Google proppellerheads would be upset at this!
    Will Farrell
    • Well, I must not be a Google Propeller head then. I think all of the

      conditions and oversight are GREAT!! Google should not have any problem with the conditions either as it basically reflects their corporate culture.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: DOJ approves Google's ITA purchase OK with conditions

        @DonnieBoy
        >>Google should not have any problem with the conditions either as it basically reflects their corporate culture.

        LOL. Donnieboy, if they do that, their investors will not be happy and google stocks immediately get tanked.
        Ram U
    • RE: DOJ approves Google's ITA purchase OK with conditions

      @Will Farrell
      Steve Ballmer is the only CEO in the tech industry who I think is hot headed enough to throw chairs around out of rage. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he already did it at some point.
      anono
  • RE: DOJ approves Google's ITA purchase OK with conditions

    Now lets see if Google actually sticks to these conditions.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Don't worry, Google will NOT hire any of the dildos in upper management at

      Microsoft.
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: DOJ approves Google's ITA purchase OK with conditions

        @DonnieBoy
        You seem to think anyone from Microsoft would actually want to work at Google.
        Loverock Davidson
      • Well, you are right, about any Microsoft exec would go crazy if they had to

        play by the rules.
        DonnieBoy
      • Google execs are going crazy now that they have to play by the rules!

        @DonnieBoy
        They thought the world loved them - Europe proved them wrong, now the US getting on board.
        Will Farrell
      • RE: DOJ approves Google's ITA purchase OK with conditions

        @DonnieBoy
        Play by the rules? I think you mean play with the office toys.
        Loverock Davidson
  • RE: DOJ approves Google's ITA purchase OK with conditions

    Of course.
    james347