FTC Gunning for Google?

Google, already in a government probe by the U.S. Department of Justice over the purchase of ITA Software Inc., is now being eyed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for possible antitrust violations.

The results of the first probe will be mulled over by the FTC, which could start a "broad antitrust investigation," against the search titan, Bloomberg reported.

The Justice Department investigation stems from Google's $700 million acquisition of ITA last year. ITA supplies flight comparison and flight data software to practically everyone --and It's likely anyone searching for a flight online has used ITA's software. Google saw the buy as a supplementing its search services, but online travel agencies like Expedia and more importantly, travel search engines like Kayak, wanted the deal stopped.

Other companies such as Microsoft (which owns Google competitor Bing,) Travelocity and TripAdvisor joined the fray against Google's ITA acquisition. Many expressed worries that Google would ban them or charge them a fee to be found in Google searches. More importantly, the Justice Department is nearing the end of its investigation.

The Bloomberg story suggests that the FTC may investigate Google for consumer protection issues, varying from Internet privacy to "deception," and could lead to an expensive fight for the search engine. However, I'm still wondering why a government investigation championed by a crappy travel search engine and one of Google's chief competitors would be considered objective enough to merit a government probe.

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