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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Google Closer to Being Sued Over Internet Search Dominance

Story first appeared on

Federal regulators are moving closer to suing Google web giant over allegations the company abuses its dominance of Internet search to stifle competition and drive up online advertising prices, news reports said late Friday.

Several news outlets reported that staff members at the Federal Trade Commission are preparing to recommend that the agency file an antitrust lawsuit against Google (GOOG).

A majority of the five FTC commissioners would have to approve a suit before legal action could proceed.

Reports from The New York Times, Bloomberg News and Reuters news service cited unnamed people briefed on the FTC's probe. FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan declined to comment.

The agency has been investigating the business practices of Google, which is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. The company's shares closed down $6.73, or 0.9%, to $744.75 Friday. The shares fell another $2.48 in after-hours trading. In a mostly down market, Google shares have fallen 3% the past week and are 9% below the stock's record high.

The probe was triggered by complaints that Google has been featuring its peripheral services closer to the top in search result displays and relegating offerings from rivals lower on result display pages.

The FTC also has been looking into whether Google rigs search results in a way that makes companies with websites pay higher fees to promote their services through Google's advertising network.