Google's Looming Antitrust Inquiry

In the clearest language to date, Democratic Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin signaled heavy scrutiny of Google coming in 2011.

U.S. Capitol

An antitrust showdown between the U.S. government and Google appears increasingly likely—soon. Yesterday, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl (a Democrat), head of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, formally announced his committee's "anti-trust agenda." And he didn't mince words about one company in particular that has earned his attention.

"In recent years, the dominance over Internet search of the world’s largest search engine, Google, has increased and Google has increasingly sought to acquire e-commerce sites in myriad businesses," read part of his announcement. "In this regard, we will closely examine allegations raised by e-commerce websites that compete with Google that they are being treated unfairly in search ranking, and in their ability to purchase search advertising."

The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission has already been wrangling with Google; the FTC almost blocked its acquisition of AdMob, says Search Engine Land, until Apple bought Quattro Wireless. Several antitrust complaints have been leveled against Google in Europe recently. The European Commission, which will investigate the complaints, has the authority to fine a company up to 10% of its revenue, and has fined Intel and Microsoft billions in the past, according to Reuters.

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