FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google: Is search giant too dominant?

FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google: Is search giant too dominant?

Summary: The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly ready to serve Google with subpoenas in a broad antitrust investigation. Will the mere investigation make Google less competitive?

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The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly ready to serve Google with subpoenas in a broad antitrust investigation. According to the Wall Street Journal, the FTC is ready to investigate whether Google is abusing its dominance of the Web. CNET News is reporting that a U.S. Senate committee probing antitrust and Internet search topics is threatening to subpoena Google CEO Larry Page or Chairman Eric Schmidt in the next month or so.

No one is commenting and the Journal cited people close to the matter. At issue is Google's position in search advertising and whether it is using its results to channel users to its own sites at the expense of rivals. The investigation comes as Google is expanding into areas such as mobile via Android, display advertising and local deals and coupons.

It's unclear how the investigation will impact Google's operations, but history provides a quick guide. Typically, these antitrust investigations make the target company less competitive. After all, companies under the antitrust microscope try to stay out of trouble and that means paring back their natural competitive impulses.

For instance, you could argue that Microsoft became less competitive after its high profile battle with the Department of Justice in 1998. The DOJ initially wanted to break up Microsoft, but then backed off. The Microsoft suit revolved around the company using its operating system dominance to push its Internet Explorer browser. Microsoft settled with the DOJ in 2001.

Since that settlement, Microsoft has missed the tech curve in a few key areas---notably mobile. Microsoft had to watch its bundling practices going forward.

Google could be in a similar position. For instance, Google could theoretically have to minimize its own properties such as YouTube. That could open the door to other video players.

Oddly enough, Microsoft's Bing search engine could stand to benefit the most from Google's antitrust issues. If Google were found to be using its search results to push its own properties.

The idea of an antitrust investigation against Google has been circulated widely in recent years. For instance, Wharton professor Eric Clemons had sketched out what an antitrust lawsuit would look like in 2009. Here's a video of Clemons' take on a Google antitrust suit.

And here's Clemons' presentation on Google and antitrust.

Topics: Security, Enterprise Software, Google

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113 comments
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  • this action is despicable!

    M$, Apple and their cronies have instigated some dumb and corrupt government bureaucrats against a company that is friend of FOSS.<br>We, the people, must expose the perpetrators of this shameless anti American government action.
    Linux Geek
    • So I take it...

      @Linux Geek

      ...you're against anti-trust in general then? MS will be shocked, *shocked* I say! to hear that.

      After all, can one have a market in a free product? DOJ says yes.

      Google is toast. No more Goggle apps, google map, google android... :)

      Because once they go though the DOJ grinder, they'll tuck their tails and be a good little peon. In other words, they'll roll over and die.
      wolf_z
      • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

        @wolf_z <br>Google will prevail and all the morons and gangsters that filed this and other phony trials against Google will be swept by the people's uprising.
        Linux Geek
      • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

        @wolf_z

        LOL, that's the most foolish statement I've seen all year. Even the DOJ doesn't want us to be stuck with M$ suck product equivalents.
        wraith404
      • Google is only in trouble if they are abusing their monopoly, which itself

        @wolf_z: ... is <b>perfectly legal</b>.

        Lets see if the investigation will find something or not.
        DDERSSS
    • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

      @Linux Geek Please don't have any children. The world is already filled with too much stupidity.
      JoeHTH
      • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

        @JoeHTH
        Tell that to 99% of the American people who LOVE google and FOSS!
        Linux Geek
      • Allow me to enlighten you, Linux Geek:

        99% of the American people don't know what FOSS is, and there are MANY people who DON'T love Google and aren't willing to give them all their personal data in exchange for a few free goodies.
        Userama
      • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

        @Linux Geek The stupidity he is talking about is your blind loyalty to Google as the FOSS savior. It's pretty obvious that in your eyes Google can do nothing wrong and anybody that tries to stop them is pure evil. Those of us with brains realize that there is a middle ground and that being a Apple Fanboy, a Fandroid, WinFreak or whatever just means you are too biased to be taken seriously. I personally love my iPhone, my wife's iPad and have just gone back to Apple with a MacBook Pro. The difference with me is I am a fan but not a fanboy who thinks Apple can do no wrong and builds the greatest products ever.
        non-biased
    • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

      @Linux Geek Our resident jester is on a roll today !!! 2 gem of a posts in a single day !!! :D
      1773
      • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

        @1773
        Looks like M$ and Apple drones have been released by their evil masters in the cyberspace.
        Linux Geek
    • Shameless anti-American government action???

      @Linux Geek
      Your either just plain dumb, or a traitor to your own country.

      By what your saying, America stands for profiteering at the needless expense of its own people, America stands for a country that finds the interests of any one company more important then the interests of any one industry as a whole, America stands for a country whose government will not even take the trouble to investigate a company that appears to be practicing in anti competitive ways.

      If you believe that crap then you sure don't think much of America.

      Further, it just makes you sound like a moron when on one hand you blame Microsoft and Apple, and their cronies as you put it, for engaging in some unfair practice, but then seem to want to give Google a free pass on even being looked into for their practices which currently do look very suspect.

      Using your brain in life requires a truly even hand, and both Apple and MS need to be looked into when they fall under scrutiny and so does Google.
      Cayble
      • Message has been deleted.

        Linux Geek
      • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

        @Cayble <br><br><br>>> By what your saying, America stands for profiteering at >> the needless expense of its own people, America <br>>> stands for a country that finds the interests of any <br>>> one company more important then the interests of any <br>>> one industry as a whole, America stands for a country <br>>> whose government will not even take the trouble to <br>>> investigate a company that appears to be practicing in <br>>> anti competitive ways.<br><br>Didn't Dick Cheney say that?<br><br>Seriously, do you truly believe that anything in the good ole USofA is about anything other than money? Pretty much been that way for the last 300 or so years, my friend......<br><br>Rick
        rick.sheeley
      • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

        @Rick.Sheeley

        I'm sorry I agree with what you say, However it has only been that way since the IMF became the central loaning company for the USA in the early 1900's. Additionally it couldn't have happened three hundred years ago, since it hasn't been that long ago that USA became a Country.
        VirgilSalyers
      • Nah, Linux Geek is actually...

        @Cayble

        ...on the MS payroll. With such over the top trolling he's not serious. He's just here to discredit Linux because who'd want to be associated with anything *he* is for?

        (laughing)
        wolf_z
    • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

      @Linux Geek <br>Imagine someone having a different opinion than yours.......Pause.........<br>Now do you seem to understand where terms like "99% of the people" and SHEEPLE come from? Funny but I kinda liked Google when all they were was a search engine.
      partman1969
      • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

        @partman1969@...
        You always have 1% of astroturf people that is really the competion to google's services that are going to complain to corrupt officials.
        Linux Geek
    • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

      @Linux Geek What's up crackpot? Yup, it's finally happened - you've snapped. Gone wacko. Lost your marbles. I say this because Google is NO friend to FOSS and open source.

      Here's a theory for you: What if Microsoft and/ or Apple is NOT behind this FTC probe? What if this is some sort of government conspiracy to bring Google down? Or what if this is due to the efforts of the Chinese government?

      Sounds ridiculous right?

      So does your theory that Microsoft and Apple are behind this as yet unconfirmed probe - remember the title says that the FTC is [b]reportedly[/b] eyeing an antitrust probe not that the FTC is actively persuing an antitrust probe.
      athynz
    • RE: FTC reportedly eyes antitrust probe of Google

      @Linux Geek You must be kidding. The Microsoft debacle of the 90's was a waste of time over an internet browser. Google I think would stand to be a logical target of this type of investigation for way many more reasons that MS. I can see it and have gone from a Google supporter to absolute disgust. As I"ve said before, they're lax controls over who uses Android has cost me a sizable amount of money for my budget, I got caught up in the privacy screw ups many times over also. Then the lax policing of their marketplace that allows malware in without any checks was the last straw. I don't mind companies being successful at all, but I could see a while back this would be coming; even if it proves out to be nothing. They are way over-reaching and the internet being more of a force now than it used to be can't afford to have one company in this much control... and I routinely use Linux, Windows and OSX in my home. (Thinking the Chrome OS isn't going to help them either here)....
      mlbslugger