Is Google about to head down the same path that Microsoft took more than a decade ago? It could be. Bloomberg is reporting that sources with the Ohio and Wisconsin governments indicate that the first steps have been taken to investigate whether an antitrust inquiry is necessary. Authorities in Texas–the first state to launch antitrust action against Microsoft 14 years ago–are also questioning the search-engine giant.
In Texas, the question is whether or not Google is manipulating search results to benefit its own properties. Wisconsin’s questions surround its efforts to purchase ITA Software, which produces software for the airline and travel industries. The article did not say what Ohio officials might be looking at.
The increasing number of states looking into Google’s business practices is significant. While action against Microsoft ultimately came from the US Justice Department, the push to take some kind of action began with the states themselves. Within one year of Texas’s action, 20 states and the DOJ joined the suit.
We should note the Justice Department has launched inquiries into Google’s practices, most recently in 2009 over its Google Books deal, but nothing much came of it.
This will certainly be something to watch in the coming months. Tech activists have increasingly turned their ire against the search giant, and criticism over its ever increasing power over the web is building. The same thing happened in the 1990s as Microsoft pushed Netscape and other competitors out in the early days of the modern commercial Internet.
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