FTC gives Google one more chance to act like a monopoly

Investigation may follow acquisition of travel market


Google knows more about the real interests of Americans than any other single entity ever has, creating the potential for more widespread, persistent destruction of privacy, copyrights, data security and, increasingly, both fixed and mobile Internet access.

The FTC wants to talk to it about whether it's going to slant search results in the travel business to favor itself. Oh, and whether it has a monopoly in the web search business and whether it's using that monopoly for its own advantage.

For any other company that would be a major problem.

Microsoft's monopoly problems went on for 12 years, cost it billions directly, and helped push it out of its armored, fortified position as the king of the hill.

For Google the monopoly is only one part of its business – one the FTC and Justice Dept. will wait to investigate until after Google finishes its acquisition of ITA Software, which makes software used by online travel-planning sites such as Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak, Sabre and Fairlogix.

There's a possibility, the two agencies figure, that buying the platform most of the big travel sites are built on might tempt Google to point some of the travel-planning search traffic to its own sites rather than letting competitors have a taste.

There's quite a lot of opposition to the deal, including (no irony here) Microsoft. (I found that out using a Bing search. )

Larry Page takes over as CEO again this week, after 10 years of "adult supervision" from Eric Schmidt, intending to "make this plan run faster, move more quickly and take bigger bets," according to one anonymous but highly placed secret executive quoted by Reuters.

Unbounded power, vast riches, a new, younger, less cautious executive in charge, wanting to make something big happen quick?

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