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DOJ Exploring “Search Fairness” With Google As Rivals Protest Potential ITA Licensing Deal
On Friday Reuters reported that Google and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) are exploring licensing guarantees as part of a potential “settlement” that would avoid litigation to block Google’s intended purchase of online travel software provider ITA. In addition the report says that the DOJ is also looking closely at issues of “search fairness” (or “search neutrality”), which are also at the heart of the European antitrust investigation against Google.
In the wake of this report, over the weekend, FairSearch.org came out with a statement opposing any such potential licensing deal:
Even If Google commits in a court order to license the best flight search technology, serious concerns would remain about the ability to administer and enforce such an order, and the potential for Google to circumvent it without detection. Moreover, such an order would not address other threatened harms from Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA. For example, Google also could abuse its general search dominance to steer users to its own or favored flight search products and could take proprietary technology developed by ITA licensees that resides on ITA servers. The members of Fairsearch.org continue to believe that the best way to protect consumers and competition from these and other threats is for the DOJ to block the deal and require Google to expand its travel search offerings through a less harmful means.
FairSearch was organized by travel sites to oppose the acquisition of ITA by Google. It appears that the group wants the acquisition blocked outright and won’t be happy with a deal that guarantees them access to ITA’s software.
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