Google is once again under FTC scrutiny, this time over its advertisement methods and whether it is using them to harm its competition, something that is separate from the issue closed earlier this year concerning whether it was in violation of antitrust laws. For now it remains a preliminary investigation, and there's no word on whether the agency has pegged Google as having broken any laws.
According to the Washington Post, the investigation is the result of Google's acquisition of DoubleClick back in 2008 for a hefty $3.1 billion. Such a purchase raised the FTC's hackles over whether possessing the advertisement platform, in addition to its own AdSense, could put the Internet giant in a position to harm its competitors. Google went ahead with the buyout, and has been under the FTC's eye in that regards since then.
One of the biggest concerns specified by the FTC was something referred to as tying, which shoehorns consumers into having to buy multiple products from a single company. This is anti-competitive, and likewise would put Google in violation of the law. This concern was raised shortly before the DoubleClick acquisition, and since then the percentage of the advertisement market Google controls has increased.
Beyond its newly launched preliminary investigation, not much else is known at the moment. We'll have to wait to see if Google has violated any laws, but it is possible the investigation will be wrapped up and will fade away without any hoopla, as has been the case many times. When asked about the investigation, both the FTC and Google declined commenting on the matter.
This follows the antitrust debacle Google went through with the FTC throughout last year, eventually settling with the agency back in January for terms many criticized as being a mere slap on the hand. While that investigation partly concerned the advertisement aspects of Google, in addition to a variety of other issues, including prioritizing its own results over competitors, the issue was separate from this one.
SOURCE: Washington Post