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ITA Software buy: Google, US govt close to pact

April 08, 2011 15:59 IST

GoogleGoogle and the US Justice Department are close to an agreement that will clear the search giant's $700 million acquisition of flight-data firm ITA Software in return for granting federal regulators the authority to monitor a part of its operations.

"Google and the Justice Department are close to an agreement that would clear the search giant's $700 million acquisition of ITA Software," The Wall Street Journal reported citing a source.

The proposed agreement is not final, and could fall apart, the report noted.

In case, Google and the Justice Department clinch the deal, it would mark a turning point for the company in its rapid growth from a Silicon Valley start-up to a digital giant so powerful that it is drawing the sort of government scrutiny accorded to AT&T Inc and Microsoft Corp in earlier decades.

The proposed agreement would for the first time allow government anti-trust monitoring of a part of Google's operations to assure

that the company does not unfairly use its control of ITA's airline data to put rivals at a disadvantage, the report said citing sources.

The proposed monitoring could set a benchmark for future Google acquisitions.

The company, having once conceded that US regulators could oversee its behaviour on a continuing basis, would be more likely to face antitrust enforcers' demands to accept such terms again, the report said.

The company has been facing growing pressure from authorities in the US and Europe on both anti-trust and privacy matters.

Last week, Google agreed to submit independent privacy audits for the next 20 years as part of a legal settlement with the Federal Trade Commission of claims it violated users' privacy at its social network, Buzz, the daily pointed out.

According to the publication, spokespersons for Google, ITA and the Justice Department declined comment.

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