DOJ Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google; Offers Terms for Settlement for ITA Acquisition

Today, the DOJ filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Google in connection with Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA Software.  There has been strong concerns that Google would use it dominant market position to corner the online travel business.  The DOJ also offered Google terms for a settlement, including a number of consumer protections.  The following is a statement by Steve Pociask, president of the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research:

 “We are pleased to see that the Department of Justice has recognized that the Google-ITA deal needs significant conditions in order to move forward.  Today, the US Department of Justice had debunked Google’s claim that competition is “just one click away.”  A closer reading of the conditions will determine whether it’s enough to protect consumers, but ensuring that Google does not have a blank check to control the online travel marketplace is a good start.  The Department of Justice should be commended for taking this issue so seriously by raising such important competition concerns about this deal and by recognizing that the proposed deal would have reduced competition and harmed consumers.  Google’s market position has reached a tipping point and there is growing concern about their ability to harm competition.  In recent weeks, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have raised significant concerns about Google’s dominance and business practices.  Additionally, a Federal Judge last week rejected the Google Book settlement, raising antitrust, privacy and copyright issues.  The FTC also announced a strong settlement with Google for its “deceptive privacy practices,” and numerous law enforcement agencies had targeted the company over its Spy-Fi practices.  We feel confident that today’s development is only the beginning of more federal oversight of the company and its business practices.”

 

“One area that the Department of Justice needs to focus on in the monitoring that will come as a result of this decree is the extent to which Google is able to use its acquisition of ITA – and others business deals – to increase demand and customers for its own sites.  If they are allowed to use their position to direct customers to their own sites, it will only increase their dominance and harm consumers.  We’re hopeful, the DOJ uses this decree to monitor them closely.”

 
 
 

 

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