updated 06:25 pm EDT, Thu April 26, 2012
FTC hints serious legal action enroute for Google
The Federal Trade Commission in a media briefing said it was hiring an external lawyer for its antitrust investigation into Google. Beth Wilkinson, best known for securing the death penalty for domestic bomber Tim McVeigh, would start as of Monday, the Mercury News said in its account of the meeting. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz stressed that the agency hadn't decided on whether it would formally accuse Google of being anti-competitive.
The hiring would nonetheless be an unusual step and a sign the FTC may be closer to a full investigation.
Officials haven't provided full details, but they're thought to be concerned that Google is using it s majority share of search and web ads to unfairly control the market, such as by prioritizing its own services' results over others or by making it difficult to get information that could be used to bring web ads elsewhere. Android has been its own concern, as the FTC is worried Google might dominate mobile search and otherwise have too much control over services.
Google has always denied that it's anti-competitive, with chairman Eric Schmidt and others saying that visiting competition was "only a click away" due to the nature of the web. Many companies are dependent on getting good search results on Google's index, however.