Feeds

Google settles with DoJ over flight data buy

Will FTC antitrust regulators pounce?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

Google has reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice that would allow it to complete its $700m acquisition of flight data outfit ITA Software.

Under the agreement, Google must continue to develop ITA's QPX travel software and license it to third-party websites under "commercially reasonable terms", while erecting "internal firewall procedures" that will hide third-party data from the company. The web giant will also be required to provide mandatory arbitration "under certain circumstances" and provide for a formal mechanism for reporting complainants that it's acting in an unfair manner in the travel-search business.

The DoJ said that as originally proposed, Google's ITA acquisition would have "substantially lessened competition" among flight-search websites, resulting in "reduced choice and less innovation for consumers". Other travel websites, such as Kayak and Hotwire, rely on data and software from ITA.

"The Department of Justice’s proposed remedy promotes robust competition for airfare websites by ensuring those websites will continue to have access to ITA’s pricing and shopping software,” reads a canned statement from Joseph Wayland, deputy assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division. “The proposed settlement assures that airfare comparison and booking websites will be able to compete effectively, providing benefits to consumers.”

The agreement between Google and the DoJ must still be approved by a federal court.

The DoJ also said that under the deal, Google must continue to develop and offer ITA's InstaSearch software, which has yet to be publicly released. And Google is barred from inking agreements with airlines that would "inappropriately restrict" the airlines’ right to share seat and booking-class information with Google competitors.

Google intends to use ITA to offer a vertical travel-search service atop its web search engine. "How cool would it be if you could type 'flights to somewhere sunny for under $500 in May' into Google and get not just a set of links but also flight times, fares and a link to sites where you can actually buy tickets quickly and easily?" Google said today in a blog post. "Well, that's exactly why we announced our intention to buy ITA ... and we're excited that the US Department of Justice today approved our acquisition."

The question is whether, with the DoJ settling with Google, the FTC will now open a broad antitrust investigation of the web giant. The word is that the FTC was waiting for the ITA acquisition to resolve before deciding whether to act. The concern is whether Google can use its web-search monopoly to build another monopoly, not only in the flight-search market but also in any other vertical search market. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.