Google confirms FTC probe, goes on defensive

@CNNMoneyTech June 24, 2011: 12:56 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Google went on the defensive about its business practices on Friday as it acknowledged that is the subject of a government probe.

The Federal Trade Commission formally notified Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) this week that it is investigating the company, Google acknowledged in a blog post. Google did not disclose the nature of the inquiry, and said it's "unclear exactly what the FTC's concerns are."

It's likely an antitrust probe, as the company has been subject to many smaller antitrust investigations in the past. This one appears far more wide-reaching.

In its blog post, Google brushed off the notion that it's a search Goliath. It reitered its oft-stated line: "The competition is only one click away."

"We recognize that our success has led to greater scrutiny," the company said. "Using Google is a choice -- and there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information."

The company claims to have lived by its "don't be evil" credo since its founding.

"These are the principles that guide us, and we know they'll stand up to scrutiny," the company said.

DOJ's Microsoft prosecutor: Google is a monopoly

Google dominates search in the United States, controlling about two-thirds of the market, according to comScore. It also licenses the world's largest smartphone operating system, and its share of U.S. display advertising revenue recently eclipsed long-time leader Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500), according to IDC.

As a result, the company has faced increased regulatory scrutiny. This year alone, a federal judge rejected Google's settlement to create a universal online book library, the Department of Justice heavily scrutinized the company's recent purchase of flight data software company ITA, and Google set aside $500 million for a potential settlement with the DOJ regarding the company's advertising practices. The DOJ is currently studying Google's proposed $400 million purchase of digital advertising toolmaker Admeld.

The Senate's antitrust subcommittee wants to hold a hearing within the next few weeks on "competition issues pertaining to Internet search" -- and it has threatened CEO Larry Page and Chariman Eric Schmidt with subpoenas if they decline to testify.

The company has faced more regulatory scrutiny outside this country as well, most notably from the European Union, which is currently investigating Google for possible antitrust violations. To top of page

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