Google anti-trust saga prolonged

US trade agency flip-flops in wake of EU’s tough talk with search giant

Tags: Google IncorporatedUSA
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Google anti-trust saga prolonged It was thought that Google’s anti-trust woes might end within days; now it may take weeks. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  December 19, 2012

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may delay the conclusion of its two-year investigation into Google Inc's controversial business practices, Reuters reported.

Two insiders had previously said they believed an agreement was close and that a wrap-up would be announced within days. The sources said they thought it was unlikely that any binding action would be forced on Google in reference to its search ranking practices, but that the search giant had compromised on other concerns, such as patent suits and the use of product reviews from other websites. An unnamed source is now saying an FTC decision may take weeks.

Google is accused of ranking its search results in such a way as to prioritise its own products and make certain companies' websites harder to find.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz is expected to step down before the end of the year, although no announcement has been made. He is said to have been keen on bring the probe to an end this month.

Yesterday EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia gave Google a month to submit formal proposals to address similar anti-competition concerns over Google's business practices in Europe.

The ultimatum was delivered following scrutiny of Google proposals submitted to the European Commission in July. Lack of consultation between the EC and Google's EU critics suggests Almunia was not satisfied with the proposals. Europe's hard line may explain the FTC's apparent U-turn.

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