Officials at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reportedly are revisiting the question of whether Google has abused its dominance in the Internet search market, according to one report.
The U.S. agency closed a similar investigation surrounding its search practices without charges more than three years ago, but apparently FTC antitrust officials have discussed the matter in recent months with representatives of a major U.S. company that objects to Google's practices, Politico reports, citing sources familiar with the discussions.
Critics complain that Google continues to use its online dominance to treat competitors unfairly. It's possible for Google to build algorithms that favor specific results, even its own. Earlier this year the company began giving preference to pages built with its fast-loading technology called Accelerated Pages (AMP). Those pages that adhere to Google's AMP practices take priority,
Unlike Facebook Instant Articles, a similar technology that speeds pages on Facebook, Google started the AMP project to speed pages across the mobile Web. Many believe that if Google can give preference to AMP-optimized pages, it also can continue to give preferential treatment to Google-related pages in search engine query results.
Last year The Wall Street Journal went a bit farther to report that FTC officials concluded in 2012 that "Google used anticompetitive tactics and abused its monopoly power in ways that harmed Internet users and rivals."
Search isn't the only Google technology that government officials point to when investigating abuse. The European Union's competition commissioner in April charged Google with unfair business practices for forcing phone makers to install its apps in return for access to Google's Play Store, according to reports.