Google cannot escape the federal government. Every large acquisition that the company makes is scrutinized for months by the feds and now the very nature of Google itself looks like it will go on trial. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Trade Commission will begin serving Google with subpoenas in the start of a broad antitrust investigation into the company’s Web and search dominance.
Google’s business practices will be put under the microscope, especially the core search product that makes up nearly 66% of search traffic in the United States. One of the key issues, according to The Wall Street Journal, will be if Google “unfairly channels users to its growing network of services at the expense of rivals.” Microsoft once went down the antitrust road, and the results were damaging for the software giant. How will Google fare under the federal microscope?
Bloomberg reports that a letter was sent by the Democratic and Republican chairs of the Senate antitrust committee requesting that either CEO Larry Page or Chairman Eric Schmidt be made available to the committee. According to the report, Google is dragging its feet in making either of its top executives available, instead offering to make its top lawyer, David Drummond, available for a hearing.
The committee’s chairs sent Google a letter on June 10 and asked for a response from Mountain View by June 15. If subpoenas are necessary they would have to be approved by the full Senate Judiciary Committee.
According to Bloomberg, a Google spokesperson said that the company will “send them the executive who can answer their questions.” That would be Drummond, who is also Google’s senior VP for corporate development and “oversees Google’s legal affairs, government relations, corporate development and new business development teams.”
Google has never faced such a broad investigation into its practices from the federal government. Within recent years it has run into trouble concerning its acquisitions of AdMob, DoubleClick and ITA, all of which are directly tied to Google search and advertising. Within the last week, Google’s $400 million acquisition of AdMeld, a company that focused on return-of-investment optimization of online ad buying, is being investigated by the Department of Justice for antitrust concerns.