Senators call for deeper Google probe

Posted by Kate Taylor

Two US anti-trust officials have written to the Federal Trade Commission asking for a thorough investigation of Google.

Senator Herb Kohl chaired the Senate Judiciary antitrust committee which in September heard Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt defend the company's practices.

However, he and committee member Michael Lee say in their letter that they're still concerned that the company may be prioritizing its own products in search results.

"We believe these allegations regarding Google's search engine practices raise important competition issues. We are committed to ensuring that consumers benefit from robust competition in online search and that the internet remains the source of much free-market innovation," they say in the letter.

"We therefore urge the FTC to investigate the issues raised at our Subcommittee hearing to determine whether Google's actions violate antitrust law or substantially harm consumers or competition in this vital industry."

In the letter, the pair claim that Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of Local, Maps and Location Services, admitted in 2007 that the company was indeed prioritizing its own services in search results.

They also point out that when asked whether Google was essentially a monopoly, Schmidt replied that the company was 'in that area'.

"While we take no position on the ultimate legality of Google's practices under the antitrust laws and the FTC Act, we believe these concerns warrant a thorough investigation by the FTC," they say.