Google is starting to feel the heat. It's trying to settle antitrust concerns with the EU, but it's heading towards a showdown on its home turf as well. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been building a case against Google for a while now.
The commission has said that a "verdict," i.e. whether the FTC will pursue a lawsuit based on the investigation or leave Google be.
The latest indication is that the FTC is going after Google, four out of five FTC commissioners are in favor of litigation, Reuters reports citing inside sources.
The interesting part is that they're not that concerned with "search neutrality" or issues with search at all, their main problem is with ad campaign portability, how easy it is to move a campaign from Google to Microsoft's Bing for example.
In Europe, the question of search is front and center. Google is accused of not promoting the sites of its competitors better and of adding things like maps from Google Maps to the search results.
This has Microsoft all riled up, via its FairSearch anti-Google lobbying group or European subsidiaries that have sued Google in the past.
Any decision from the FTC is coming in November or December at the latest. If the FTC decides to press on with a lawsuit, Google may look to settle the matter. Alternatively, it could gear up for a prolonged and visible court battle.
Google may very well win the lawsuit, in terms of search results the case can't even be considered flimsy, in terms of advertising, it's going to be hard to prove that Google abused its position even if it may have acted more aggressively at times.
But even winning the lawsuit will damage Google as its image will suffer either way. Settling with the FCT is equally problematic, it's going to be expensive for one, but that's not an issue for Google. It will also solidify the idea that Google is abusing its position in the minds of some that have already convinced themselves of this.