updated 12:35 pm EDT, Fri June 24, 2011
Google confirms FTC subpoena already sent
A Google SEC filing quietly submitted late Thursday has confirmed an FTC antitrust investigation. The brief notice said it had received a subpoena for a look into the company's behavior. Little was mentioned about the focus other than that it would touch on "search and advertising."
The investigation is likely to center on whether Google is using its leading share to unfairly steer search results and advertising. In Europe, Microsoft has complained that Google locks down data that would help advertisers switch to another ad network easily. Concerns have also existed over what Google prioritizes in results.
In mobile, worries exist that Google may be prioritizing which companies are allowed to get privileged access to YouTube features. A Korean lawsuit has already alleged that it didn't allow competing search engines on Android devices in certain cases.
Google told the FTC it was "cooperating" with the request for information.
In a more public statement that it was still "unclear" what the FTC wanted but went on the defensive. Changes it made were the best for users, it said. It also argued that it was as transparent as possible about its practices and that it embraced "loyalty, not lock-in." It sensed that some complaints might stem from algorithm changes in its search algorithms that site owners complained was unfairly pushing them down.
"Not every website can come out at the top of the page, or even appear on the first page," Google Fellow Amit Singhal said.