Federal regulators escalated their antitrust investigation of Google on Thursday by hiring a prominent litigator, sending a strong signal that they are prepared to take the Internet giant to court, report David Streitfeld and Edward Wyatt on Friday in The New York Times.
The inquiry, by the Federal Trade Commission, centers on whether Google is abusing its advantage in Internet search by manipulating results to favor its own products. The case has the potential to be the biggest showdown between regulators and Silicon Valley since the government took on Microsoft 14 years ago.
The news about the antitrust investigation overshadowed Google’s formal response earlier Thursday to a fine by the Federal Communications Commission for obstructing a separate investigation into whether privacy laws had been violated in the Street View project. In the response, Google formally denied obstructing the F.C.C. inquiry, but agreed to pay a small fine anyway.