The feds are coming for Google. That’s according to a sobering report this morning in the Wall Street Journal, which says the US Federal Trade Commission is moving ahead with an investigation into whether Google unfairly used its dominance to push aside competitors.
Although Google has been looked into by the Justice Department before – usually regarding the company’s acquisitions – this is a different matter altogether, as the investigation is poised to delve deep into the company’s business practices at large in a thorough and likely time-consuming probe.
Driving the impetus for the investigation is Google’s unmatched supremacy in myriad facets of the Web, including search advertising. Nonetheless, Google isn’t surprised in the least that the Feds have grown curious.
“Given our success and the disruptive nature of our business, it’s entirely understandable that we’ve caused unease among other companies and caught the attention of regulators,” two Google executives famously penned in a company blog post after the official European probe was launched in late 2010.
Notwithstanding the ultimate outcome of the probe, Google stands to be harmed – at least in theory – by possibly being forced via FTC document requests to make public some closely guarded secrets and other detailed information pertinent to the company’s hush-hush inner workings.
Still, as the WSJ concedes, Google isn’t necessarily an easy target for the FTC. US antitrust laws, after all, don’t render monopolies illegal. It’s the abuse of power that is illegal. And since “courts have significantly narrowed the scope of antitrust law in recent years,” the FTC will clearly have its hand fulls in attempting to bring a successful case against the Internet search giant.