Google Inc. (GOOG), the world’s biggest Internet-search company, hired 12 lobbying firms after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission began a review of its business practices.
The company has enlisted Akin Gump, Bingham, Capitol Legislative Strategies, Chesapeake Group, Crossroad Strategies, Gephardt Group, Holland & Knight, Normandy Group, Prime Policy, the First Group, the Madison Group and the Raben Group, according to an e-mail from Google.
The Mountain View, California-based company received a subpoena on June 23 “relating to a review by the FTC of its business practices, including search and advertising,” according to a regulatory filing last week. Google said it is cooperating with the probe.
Regulators across the U.S. and in Europe are stepping up their scrutiny of Google, which has the largest share of the Web-search market. The company, much like Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in the 1990s, may be forced to spend years defending itself against a probe into whether Google uses its lead to keep out competitors and harm consumers.
The FTC alerted technology companies of plans to gather information from them for the probe, three people familiar with the matter said in April. The agency is likely to examine whether Google is using its position in Internet search to subdue rivals in adjacent markets with threats and jacked-up advertising rates, lawyers have said. The company’s conduct in new sectors, such as mobile devices, also will probably be a focus, they said.
New York and California are in the early stages of an antitrust investigation of Google, along with Texas and Ohio, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who didn’t want to be identified because the probe isn’t public.
Officials at the European Union have also started investigations into Google’s dominance of the Internet-search industry.
Google shares have declined 12 percent this year. The stock climbed $14.65 to $521.03 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.
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