Regular readers are aware of my Op-Ed criticizing Google’s rapacious ways, written for the San Francisco Chronicle and subsequently re-printed in the Washington Times. That doesn’t happen too often, BTW. The Wall St. Journal reports that the Justice Department is paying attention:
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has quietly hired one of the nation’s best-known litigators, former Walt Disney Co. vice chairman Sanford Litvack, for a possible antitrust challenge to Google Inc.’s growing power in advertising.
Mr. Litvack’s hiring is the strongest signal yet that the U.S. is preparing to take court action against Google and its search-advertising deal with Yahoo Inc. The two companies combined would account for more than 80% of U.S. online-search ads.
Google shares tumbled 5.5%, or $24.30, to $419.95 in 4 p.m. trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, while Yahoo shares were up 18 cents to $18.26.
For weeks, U.S. lawyers have been deposing witnesses and issuing subpoenas for documents to support a challenge to the deal, lawyers close to the review said. Such efforts don’t always mean a case will be brought, however.
An 80% market share in search ads is not good for democracy, of course, so we applaud the impending suit in advance.