The FTC has been examining Google (GOOGL)’s business practices for a while and tonight the New York Times reports that the commission has prepared a memo recommending the United States file suit against the company for allegedly massaging search results to favor Google products, among other things.
It’s not a done deal that the government and Google will end up arguing the case in court, but a memo currently being prepared by the FTC is a big step in that direction:
The F.T.C. staff memo does not mean that the government will sue Google for antitrust violations. Next, the vote of three of the five F.T.C. commissioners would be required. And each step is a further prod for Google to make concessions to reach a settlement, before going to court. Last month, Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the F.T.C., said a final decision on whether to sue Google would be made before the end of this year.
Even if Google manages to soothe American concerns, a parallel European investigation into many of the same issues is proceeding apace. Above that, individual states are probing Google as well. The Times reports those states include New York, Texas and California.
According to the Times, practices questioned by the FTC include Google’s use of AdWords as well as its smartphone business.