WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has informed Google that it was opening a formal investigation to determine whether the search engine had abused its market power by favoring its own services over those of rivals in online searches and through other practices.
On its blog, Google, who makes a living by combining search and advertising, said that it had received notification of the investigation into its business practices on Thursday.
Google claims to have the interest of the user in mind. “It’s still unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are, but we’re clear about where we stand,” Google blogged. “Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that if we focus on the user all else will follow.”
Shares of Google, the world’s most popular search engine, began the year a touch above $600. The shares were trading at $474.38 on Friday afternoon..
Many complaints have been filed against Google on both sides of the Atlantic on the part of companies specializing in vertical search, such as websites to compare prices. In Brussels, the European Commission opened an investigation into an investigation in November.
For now, Google has gone through the antitrust investigations. In 2008, the search engine gave up working with rival Yahoo when the Justice Department said it was ready to challenge the agreement.
“Typically less than one out of every 10 investigations lead to enforcement. This investigation faces daunting odds,” said David Balto, a former FTC policy director.
“The complaints presented to the FTC are from disgruntled advertisers, not consumers. That is not a strong foundation to an antitrust case.”