updated 12:30 pm EDT, Thu June 23, 2011
FTC to serve Google subpoenas in antitrust case
The FTC will soon formally subpoena Google in a large antitrust investigation, insiders uncovered Thursday morning. Requests for information should go out in the next several days, first to Google and then to its partners. The investigation outlined at the WSJ would determine whether Google's search business was illegally steering ads and users to its platforms while denying rivals a fair chance.
Neither side would confirm details.
An investigation wouldn't be the first for Google, which faced a Microsoft-prompted EU investigation that, along with claims from other companies, alleged that Google was crippling Microsoft's YouTube app for Windows Phone, blocking interoperable ad data, and trying to get unfair control of the book industry by digitizing old books without license holders' consent.
Most investigations of Google have focused on takeovers, such as its buyout of ITA for airline data.
An investigation is likely to touch on Android, both for the privileges Google might give its own platform for search versus a competitor but also complaints of unfair search bundling that discourages loading non-Google search engines. Microsoft is expected to be the most vocal supporter of any investigation into Google as it has tried to push Bing search into the public eye, but Apple and others may have to weigh in about Google's influence on mobile. In spite of the iOS and Android rivalry, Apple has repeatedly collaborated with Google for key desktop and mobile apps.