The Wall Street Journal has reported today that the Federal Trade Commission is preparing to serve Google with subpoenas, kicking off a formal antitrust investigation . They will be attempting to determine if Google has abused it market position to suppress competition. While this is not the first FTC investigation of Google, it’s likely setting off serious alarm bells at Mountain View due to its scope.
Google has previously been investigated by the FTC for its numerous acquisitions, but this new probe is said to be directly related to Google’s core business of search and advertising. Other players in the market have been complaining that Google’s natural search algorithm is not so natural, and is actually designed to drive people only to its services.
Further, many worry that Google’s dominant position in advertising gives them too much control over a businesses success or failure. The FTC was likely spurred to action in the wake of Google’s increasing movement into markets like mobile, travel, and set top boxes. Analysts believe the FTC will have a tough time proving unfair practices, though. It is not illegal to have a monopoly, just to abuse it. Do you think Google is engaged in unfair business practices?