Google-FTC Antitrust Inquiry Might Drag On Until Next Year

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Google may have to wait a bit longer until negotiations in its antitrust case with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission finally draw to a close. The New York Times reported that the FTC is unlikely to finish until January, according to sources briefed on the investigation. At the beginning of this week, observers speculated that a settlement was in the works after Google reportedly promised to change some of the business practices that the FTC had called into question.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz had previously said he hoped to have the inquiry wrapped up by the end of this year, and the agency had reportedly put pressure on Google to settle. Unfortunately, the New York Times reported, Google’s optimism may be one of the reasons the investigation will continue to drag on for a while longer:

Two people who have been briefed on the investigation said that some commissioners had asked for more time to consider possible penalties after recent reports portrayed Google as having persuaded the F.T.C. to give the company little more than a slap on the wrist.

The FTC has accused Google of ranking its own properties higher than its competitors on its search engines. A settlement would allow Google to possibly avoid a fine of as much as 10 percent of its annual global revenue, about $37.9 billion last year.