/// AllThingsDC: Is There Now "Blood in the Water" for Google Versus FTC?
It’s hard to find people in Silicon Valley talking about Google’s imminent antitrust battle with the United States Federal Trade Commission. It’s much less difficult in Washington. In fact, as one D.C. person familiar with the ongoing FTC probe aimed at slapping Google for its worrisome dominance of search and other markets put it most colorfully: “There’s now blood in the water. All these people who have wanted to kill Google, this is their chance. They will never have a better opportunity than the next 30 days.” And that’s why I’m in the nation’s capital for the next few days, sussing out the current status of the impending potential battle between Google and regulators. The timing is tight. While there might have been a pause while the election played out, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz’s desire to step down and get back to the private sector is widely known. There is also the increasing pressure for him to act soon, especially since Leibowitz pushed hard to get the case in an intra-governmental tussle with the Department of Justice. Still, until now, it’s been a funny pace of sprinting fast and jogging slow, following a more than 18-month-long investigation of Google’s search business, in order to file a formal complaint for what would surely be a battle over a much longer time frame. After FTC staffers recommended that the agency had enough material from interviews and internal documents for a case, commissioners have over the last two months been talking to the players themselves. Google has been engaged in ongoing talks to settle with the FTC, although as Bloomberg reported , the company is now facing an ultimatum after failing to propose a reasonable remedy. That appears to be the case: Leibowitz told Google on Friday that he planned to call for a vote within the next couple of weeks, sources said. Thus, the clock is now clearly ticking for what some people are describing as Google’s “Microsoft moment,” referring to the devastating antitrust trial from the 1990s in which the government was able to label the software giant as a “monopolist.” Such an outcome could be equally damaging to Google, of course, if the case moves forward. At that point, once a complaint is filed, the spotlight would move to a top litigator, Beth Wilkinson, whom the FTC brought on in April
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AllThingsDC: Is There Now "Blood in the Water" for Google Versus FTC?