The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has sent formal requests (“civil investigative demands”) to book publishers and Google regarding particulars of their book search settlement deal. That settlement has drawn considerable criticism from various third parties. The article characterized the requests as an “escalation” of the DOJ’s probe:
A New York publishing executive said the Justice Department is requesting documents about pricing, digital strategy and conversations with other publishers related to the Google settlement. “The Justice Department is clearly focused on Google,” said this executive. “It’s a wide-ranging request for documentation.”
The article then expands into a wider discussion of anti-trust concerns and questions surrounding Google, which is seeking to portray itself not as the king of search but as a smaller player in a much larger game — all advertising.
In a new more regulation-friendly political climate, Google will be both stepping up its lobbying and facing more scrutiny from legislators and the DOJ on every move. As a consequence we’re unlikely to see any blockbuster M&A activity from Google for the near future at least.