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FTC may launch antitrust probe into Google's search engine dominance [Updated]

April 5, 2011 | 11:29 am

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The Federal Trade Commission is considering launching a probe into Google's dominance of the online search engine market, according to a report.

But before the FTC initiates any antitrust investigation, the agency is waiting to see whether the U.S. Justice Department goes through with an antitrust lawsuit it's been mulling over to try to stop Google's $700-million purchase of ITA Software, according to a report from Bloomberg, which cited two unnamed people "familiar with the matter."

ITA builds online flight and ticket information software for airline companies. The Justice Department would be investigating how Google plans to integrate the flight-information company into its search engine.

Likewise, a possible FTC investigation into Google's search-related products could look into similar matters, according to the Bloomberg report.

Both the FTC and Justice Department are responsible for enforcing antitrust laws. Sometimes they negotiate which will take on large investigations such as the Google case would be, the report said.

Officials at the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant were not available for comment Tuesday morning, but Adam Kovacevich, a Google spokesman, told Bloomberg in an email that consumers were free to choose whichever search engine they prefer.

"Since competition is one click away on the Internet, we work hard to put our users' interests first and give them the best, most relevant answers to their queries," Kovacevich told Bloomberg. "We built Google for users, not websites."

Officials at the FTC and the Justice Department were also not available for comment Tuesday morning.

Google shares were down about 3% at $569.59 at 11:24 a.m. Pacific time.

[Updated 11:46 a.m.: Gina Talamona, a spokeswoman for the Dept. of Justice said the agency had no comment on the Bloomberg report.]

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Credit: Tony Avelar/Bloomberg

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