Government Fans Flames Under Google’s Hot Seat

As I sit munching on a decadent brownie that came straight from Google’s renowned cafeteria (don’t be evil? ha!), I’m mulling the company’s status in the eyes of U.S. and European lawmakers and regulators.

Two regulation-related instances have occurred recently. Officially, Google has responded to concerns voiced by EU regulators by slashing in half the amount of time it stores user search data to nine months.

Certainly potentially more significant, but not confirmed by ClickZ News, is the Wall Street Journal’s report that the Department of Justice has hired an outside litigator to look into Google goings-on. In particular, the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the stalled Google/Yahoo search ad deal.

However, it’s unknown whether the new DOJ hire, Sanford Litvack — “one of the nation’s best-known litigators” according to the WSJ — will focus only on the that deal, or inspect other aspects of Google’s business (or Yahoo’s business for that matter).

Let’s not forget previous government scrutiny of the partnership by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Surely, the heightened inspections of Google are reminding observers more and more of Microsoft’s longtime antitrust troubles. Indeed, the WSJ reports, “It is relatively rare for the Justice Department to hire a special counsel from outside the department. David Boies was brought in as a special counsel to build the landmark antitrust case against Microsoft in 1998.”

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