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Google Responds to FTC Search Engine Probe

Apparently, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has launched a review of Google alleging that the search engine giant is giving its own services favorable treatment in search results. Google’s official blog confirmed the probe by saying, “Yesterday, we received formal notification from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that it has begun a review of our business.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into the search giant to see if the company is abusing its dominance of Internet search to extend its influence into other lucrative online markets, such as mapping and shopping and travel comparison. Google’s rivals have complained that Google manipulates its results to point users at its own sites and bury links to competitors.

Google responded in a blog post stating that Google’s “instant answers and new sources of knowledge are all for free.” Amit Singhal, the head of Google’s core ranking team, gets defensive in the post and argues that “using Google is a choice.”

“It’s still unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are, but we’re clear about where we stand. Since the beginning, we have been guided by the idea that, if we focus on the user, all else will follow. No matter what you’re looking for-buying a movie ticket, finding the best burger nearby, or watching a royal wedding-we want to get you the information you want as quickly as possible. Sometimes the best result is a link to another website. Other times it’s a news article, sports score, stock quote, a video or a map,” stated Google in the blog post.

Google continues to face separate investigations by the U.K.-based price comparison site Foundem, French legal search engine ejustice.fr, and Microsoft-owned shopping site Ciao. All these sites are complaining that Google is burying them in search results.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee is also probing Google to find out if the company gives its own services favorable treatment in search results. In fact, the subcommittee wants Google Chairman Eric Schmidt or Chief Executive Officer Larry Page to testify before the panel.

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