Update – As I reported in late June, the FTC served Google with broad subpoenas, looking into various aspects of the company’s competitive business practices. Yesterday, more information on this investigation came out, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that FTC lawyers, along with several state attorneys general, have been inquiring whether Google:
- Prevents Android smartphone makers from using competitors’ services;
- Gives favorable web placement of its own services above other results; and
- Unfairly poaches information from rivals – like local reviews – and then downgrades its rivals’ search results.
As the WSJ reports:
Google denies that it engages in unfair or illegal competitive practices. The company has suggested the growing number of antitrust investigations have been spurred by rivals unsettled by its aggressive push into new business sectors.
“We understand that with success comes scrutiny,” said a Google spokeswoman. “We’re happy to answer any questions they have about our business.”
They might be answering questions for a while. The FTC investigation is in its early stages. And even though Internet activist, monopoly-hater, and ex-Free Press chairman of the board, Tim Wu, is at the agency (ostensibly to lend guidance on Internet issues), a lawsuit by the FTC is not a certainty.
More to come…