It is common to now days find Google at the end of antitrust claims for reasons that could range from its general dominance as a search engine and thus the common link between users and the internet or its large scale acquisitions in the newer markets like the ITA deal that it proposed. Google has faced many investigations against trust in European countries. However, now the company will also be possibly facing such antitrust hearings in the US Senate.
The Chairman of the Antitrust, Consumer Rights and Competition Policy Subcommittee of the Senate, Senator Herb Kohl, today announced the agenda of his subcommittee for the 112th Congress. A probe into the dominance of Google over the search engine market is a part of the planned agenda items along with investigations into allegations that e-commerce websites have raised over Google of being unfairly treated over their search rankings which in turn directly affects their ability to purchase search advertising. The online travel industry along with its “Fair Search” consortium which is attempting to block the ITA deal will be the primary sources of these allegations. Google doesn’t in general buy many e-commerce businesses, notwithstanding the failed attempt to buy Groupon. And ITA too is not as much an e-commerce company as it is an information service; however it is certain that the deal will have large implications for online travel purchases.
The point still remains that none of these companies has claimed that Google is currently treating them fairly in its search result rankings, what they are trying to say is that it can treat them unfairly whenever it wants to do so. It is basically a hypothetical argument at the moment. However, in case the Senate holds antitrust hearings against Google, the subjects might range far more than the e-commerce companies.