Google says FTC has opened inquiry into practices

San Francisco Chronicle


Google disclosed on Friday that the Federal Trade Commission has begun a formal investigation of its business practices, setting up what could turn into the biggest antitrust battle in the tech world since the landmark Microsoft case in the late 1990s.

Aaron Edlin, a professor of economics and law at Boalt Hall, the UC Berkeley School of Law, said it's difficult to know whether any abuse has occurred, in part because it isn't clear to the outside world what factors determine Google's search rankings. The FTC subpoenas could shine more light on the company's actual practices and the driving motivations for its decisions, he said.

If Google ultimately is found guilty of anything, a decision that could take years, there's still the thorny question of the appropriate remedy. It could include some kind of ongoing government monitoring, establishing a body to hear appeals of search rankings, breaking off divisions of the company or establishing regulations for how Google orders or displays results. 6/25/2011