Senior antitrust officials at the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are gathering information on whether Google abused its dominance in the internet search market, and may reopen an investigation closed without charges in 2013, Politico reported.
Officials are talking to representatives of “a major US company” that has concerns over how Google’s search products behave.
According to critics, Google uses its online dominance to treat competitors unfairly by, for instance, taking off search results for competing products or using content from third-party sources without permission.
The inquiry is still in early stages and indicates “renewed agency interest,” though it is uncertain if the FTC will pursue the issue, the report said.
An FTC spokesperson said that agency investigations are non-public and it will “not comment on an investigation or the existence of an investigation.” Google also did not respond to a request for comment.
Back in 2013 when charges were dropped, FTC’s then-chairman Jon Leibowitz said, “Google’s primary reason for changing the look and feel of its search results to highlight its own products was to improve the user experience.”
The Politico report said a probe into its search practices “would be more sweeping and consequential” than the Android investigation “because it strikes at the heart of Google’s core business model.”
Last month, the European Commission determined that Google broke EU antitrust rules for “stifling competition and innovation” and using Android to impose unfair restrictions on device manufacturers and operators.