Google antitrust probe ends in FTC ultimatum
Trade Commission said to want resolution in next few days
Google Inc has been told it has mere days to offer up an acceptable proposal to US Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz over anti-competition allegations or face legal action, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
The unnamed sources said the search giant has been talking to the FTC for two weeks without tabling an appropriate remedy to the agency's concern that Google is abusing its position as the number-one Internet search engine. One of the insiders said the FTC has made it clear to Google that nothing less than a consent decree will close the matter.
"We continue to work co-operatively with the Federal Trade Commission and are happy to answer any questions they may have," Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich said yesterday in an e-mail. Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the FTC, declined to comment.
Insiders have confirmed that the FTC's investigation involves Google's preferential ranking of its own services, the signing of exclusive agreements to provide search services to online publishers and the search company's policy of making it difficult for advertisers to compare data about campaigns running on rival sites by Yahoo! and Microsoft's Bing.
Another FTC complaint expected to emerge is against Google's practice of posting customer reviews from other websites, including Yelp, to add to its own services on local restaurants and other businesses, the sources have said.
FTC agents have also recommended the agency pursue Google for misusing patent protections to block rivals' smartphones from coming to market, the insiders said.