WASHINGTON Dec 6 Critics of Google,
fearing that an antitrust investigation into the search giant by
the Federal Trade Commission will not produce a strong
conclusion, may be ready to take their grievances next to the
At least one Google adversary met with Justice Department
officials recently, pressing them to investigate, according to
two sources with knowledge of the situation.
The FTC is believed to be close to wrapping up an
investigation into accusations that the search giant uses its
dominance to squash competitors in shopping and travel, blocks
rivals' access to its Android wireless operating system, and
asks courts to stop sales of products that it says infringe
"The entire technology industry wants to see the FTC take
action," said one lawyer following the probe. "If the FTC lets
down the entire tech industry, the next time the tech industry
has a concern they're going to go to the DOJ (Justice
The lawyer also pointed to the possibility of congressional
hearings aimed at probing the FTC itself if the agency reached
what Google critics considered a weak conclusion.
Gary Reback, who also represents Google's critics, said he
had not taken clients to meet with the Justice Department
recently because it was "too early to throw in the towel with
"This goes well beyond an emotional response. If the FTC
isn't equipped to deal with this, they shouldn't have taken it
on in the first place," said Reback, who is with the law firm
Carr & Ferrell LLP. "Believe me, I know how to find the (Justice
Department) antitrust division."
Both the Justice Department and the FTC enforce antitrust
law, although the commission has more arrows in its quiver
because it can pursue companies for ill-defined "unfair"
practices while the Justice Department cannot, said David Balto,
an FTC veteran now in private practice.
Balto doubted that the Justice Department would take up
action against Google.
"They're (the Justice Department) going to say 'no,'" he
said. "What are we going to do? At the end of every
investigation are we going to let people change the rules and
A decision by the FTC is expected by the end of the year.
The European Commission, which is also probing Google, is
expected to announce a decision next month.