The Federal Trade Commission has been building an antitrust case against Google for almost a year now. While Google has remained confident that they have done nothing wrong, decisions like stealing data from competitors, especially those who are unwilling to sell, have given the FTC enough confidence to continue. This week, that confidence encouraged them to hire outside counsel to help them with the upcoming case.
The FTC has only hired outside help twice in the last decade, so that suggests that this case is on its way and will be quite the project. This will not be easy for Google, as they have other major legal battles underway, including the big Oracle case, whose details will surely be used as evidence in the upcoming antitrust case.
For some background on the case and what insiders are saying, hit the break.
The FTC has been investigating whether or not Google has abused its position on the Internet to promote themselves over other, more relevant sites. For example, their removal of Twitter and Facebook results from what was once called "People and Pages from the Social Web" and replacing them with only Google+ results in the newly named "People and Pages on Google+" has gained a lot of attention. In fact, developers from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (yes, they still have developers) got together and created a plug-in to return the feature to Google.
Officially, the FTC has said they have made no decision in regards to bringing charges against Google, but Google is the only opponent they currently have under investigation that has had a real chance of going to trial. Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, however, said,
We are delighted to have someone of her caliber helping us on such an important matter.
That seems like embracing the inevitability of a battle. Dave Wales, Richard Feinstein's predecessor, said,
This may not be a declaration of all-out war, but it's like things have been ratcheted up to 'Defcon 4.' You don't do something like this unless you think there is a good chance there will be litigation.
The lack of understanding of the DEFCON system aside, it seems that even previous directors can tell this legal battle is coming. Hopefully for Google, they will have the legal resources to keep all of their fires going. If the count keeps going up, however, they will need to hire their own external counsel to keep things going.