Google FTC inquiry demanded by antitrust senators

Google faces renewed attention from the US Federal Trade Commission this week, as the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee reiterates demands for the search giant to be investigated over potentially unfair practices. "A key question is whether Google is using its market power to steer users to its own web products or secondary services and discriminating against other websites with which it competes" chairman Senator Herb Kohl and panel member Senator Herb Kohl wrote to the FTC today, Bloomberg reports, with the company's behavior being seen to "warrant a thorough investigation by the FTC."

The fresh attention will come as a disappointment to Google, which may have hoped that an placatory appearance by chairman Eric Schmidt last month before the subcommittee might have swayed its opinion. Schmidt was careful to downplay Google's role as a potential antitrust threat, pointing out that technologies like Apple's Siri would present "a competitive threat" to its own business.

That was Schmidt's second attempt to protest Google's innocence, having been called back after his initial September appearance. Then, he conceded that Google was in a "monopoly area" but insisted that the company was no Microsoft.

Nonetheless, the subcommittee made no suggestion as to whether it believed Google's practices were illegal or otherwise, merely that they warranted attention. "We appreciate that the committee reserved judgment as we continue to cooperate with the FTC" a Google spokesperson has said in response.