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The Department of Justice has hired its old anti-trust boss from private practice to head up a probe into Google's advertising business.

Sandy M Litvack ran the DoJ's antitrust division under President Jimmy Carter. He left in early 1981.

Litvack was working as a partner at private law firm Hogan and Hartson for both plaintiffs and defendants, and has also been vice president at Walt Disney and a board member at Compaq.

It is still not clear if the DoJ's interest goes beyond an investigation into Google's advertising partnership with Yahoo! or will be a wider anti-trust probe, Dow Jones reports.

The formal investigation into the advertising deal is already unusual - the DoJ normally requires a full merger before such an investigation. At the same time though, the DoJ's antitrust division's overall remit is to enforce US antitrust laws and promote competition.

A US Senate committee is also looking at Google. The search giant has also skirmished with Europe on privacy issues. ®

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