Jun 252011

Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has begun a review of its business practices.

“We respect the FTC’s process and will be working with them (as we have with other agencies) over the coming months to answer questions about Google and our services,” Amit Singhal, a Google fellow, said in a blog. He also said it’s “unclear exactly what the FTC’s concerns are.”

Regulators across the U.S. and in Europe are stepping up their scrutiny of Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, which has the largest share of the U.S. Web-search market. The company, much like Microsoft in the 1990s, may be forced to spend years defending itself against a probe into whether Google uses its lead to keep out competitors and harm consumers.

“This is a non-trivial event,” said Marc Schildkraut, a lawyer at Dewey & LeBoeuf in Washington and former assistant director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “It’s the beginning of a long process that takes up a lot of executive time.”

Google defended its practices in Friday’s blog.

“Using Google is a choice,” Singhal wrote. “And there are lots of other choices available to you for getting information: other general-interest search engines, specialized search engines, direct navigation to Web sites, mobile applications, social networks and more.”

Google said in a separate filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that on Thursday it received a civil investigative demand from the FTC “relating to a review by the FTC of Google’s business practices.”

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