Feeds

Google settles with DoJ over flight data buy

Will FTC antitrust regulators pounce?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Application security programs and practises

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. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330
If the person in front reclines their seat, this could get interesting
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.