DOJ’s Strict Conditions on Google/ITA Deal Will Open Internet Giant To Unprecedented Scrutiny

Full Investigation Of Anticompetitive Search Practices Needed, Consumer Watchdog Says

WASHINGTON, DC — The Department of Justice’s conditions on Google’s $700 million deal to buy ITA Software will focus unprecedented and necessary regulatory scrutiny on the

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Internet giant, Consumer Watchdog said today. The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group called on the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s anticompetitive search practices.

Consumer Watchdog expressed the concern that even with the DOJ’s conditions in place — because of Google’s dominance on the Internet — the company will ultimately win control of the travel search industry, driving ticket prices up for consumers.

Under the terms of the settlement, for the next five years Google will be required to license ITA’s software, to continue to upgrade it and to establish firewalls to hide ITA clients’ proprietary information from Google. The settlement still must be approved by a federal court. Google plans to launch its own online travel search service that will compete with such websites as Kayak and Tripadvisor.

“The conditions imposed on Google will prevent the most egregious anticompetitive aspects of this deal, but the real problem is Google’s ongoing anticompetitive practices based on its monopolistic control of search, ” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project. “It’s long past time for a full investigation of those abuses by U.S. Antitrust authorities, either the DOJ or the FTC.”

European antitrust officials and the Texas attorney general have conducting antitrust investigations. The U.S. DOJ opposed the Google Books settlement on antirust grounds and the settlement was rejected by U.S. Judge Denny Chin.

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Consumer Watchdog, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization with offices in Washington, DC and Santa Monica, CA. Consumer Watchdog’s website is www.ConsumerWatchdog.org. Visit our new Google Privacy and Accountability Project website: http://insidegoogle.com.

Published by John M. Simpson

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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