US regulators scheduled an announcement Thursday on their lengthy antitrust probe of Google, amid reports a voluntary settlement was likely.
Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz was to make the announcement at 1800 GMT “concerning the investigation of Google, one of the largest technology companies in the world, for alleged anticompetitive conduct,” an FTC statement said.
The Washington Post and other media said Google was preparing to agree to a settlement that calls for unspecified changes in how it handles search queries, but would stop short of signing a consent decree that could be enforced by a court.
These settlements would not necessarily affect a separate review of Google’s practices in the European Union, or by several US states, which would be able to bring their own enforcement actions.
In recent days, Google rivals have said the FTC would be too soft if it allowed Google to escape a court-ordered remedy.
Critics point out that Google controls some 70 percent of the Internet search market — and the advertising that goes along with it — and may exert even more power in the mobile sector by controlling the Android operating system used on two-thirds of smartphones.
Google has been accused of “scraping” content from other services like travel and restaurant reviews while keeping consumers on its own sites.
It is also under fire for allegedly promoting its own services — including travel, restaurant reviews and YouTube videos — in its search results.
European Union competition watchdogs began an investigation into Google in 2010 and the FTC opened its own probe into the company’s lucrative search and advertising business in June 2011.