C|Net’s Charles Cooper reports today that Department of Justice trustbusters are considering a comprehensive antitrust attack on Google.
Sources who have provided testimony to the government say a departmental debate revolves around whether antitrust regulators should challenge Google’s proposed revenue-sharing deal with Yahoo, or go for the whole enchilada–and haul Google into court on broader charges related to its dominance in search advertising.
C|Net’s Declan McCullagh speculated earlier this week about how Google would fare under an Obama administration:
[Obama’s] technology campaign platform pledges to “reinvigorate antitrust enforcement” and “step up review of merger activity.” He complained to the American Antitrust Institute that “the current administration has what may be the weakest record of antitrust enforcement of any administration in the last half century.” If the Bush administration’s current antitrust probe of Google, coupled with this week’s apparent threat of a federal lawsuit, amounts to a “weak” record, imagine what antitrust true believers in an Obama administration might do. (A three-way split of Google into search, applications, and display ads, anyone?)
I’m not sure whether structural separation is on Google’s near-term horizon, but Washington, D.C.’s parasite economy will make its move.