Add a few US legislators to the list of parties that are airing concerns over Google’s plan to purchase air travel software provider ITA.
According to All Things Digital, two US House members and the Missouri Attorney General sent letters this week to Christine Varney, US Asst. Attorney General in the Antitrust Division, to express concerns over what they see as the potential ramifications of allowing the deal to go through.
In one letter, representatives Howard Coble (R-NC) and Thomas Petri (R-WI) urge Varney to “pay particular attention” to the deal’s impact on competition in the marketplace.
Aside from any potential for control of travel services, Google already has a dominant position in search and search advertising. Critics of the deal argue that once Google becomes a participant in the travel services market, it might use its advertising dominance to steer consumers to its services, further limiting competition.
Missouri AG Chris Koster’s letter expresses similar concerns over competition in the travel search market, saying that “ensuring that new sellers can gain meaningful entry into this market and that all sellers can compete against each other fairly is our mutual concern.”
These aren’t the first such concerns over the Google-ITA deal since it was announced last summer. A coalition of opponents came together under the Fairsearch.org name, which Microsoft later joined. At the government level, Senator Herb Kohl has called for conditions on the deal if it gets approved and there are recent reports that Google and the DOJ are negotiating such conditions.
Google reiterated its previous statements to All Things Digital, saying in part, “This acquisition will inject more competition into flight search, not less, and give consumers more options.”