Justice Department searching Google. Google's advertising practices. Not antitrust violations.
Search that on your favorite Internet search engine, and you will find Google, Inc., just set aside $500 million of the $2.3 billion it reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as earnings in the recently-closed first quarter of 2011.
That means Google, Inc. has set aside half a billion dollars for something. Something related to the Justice Department investigation. But the search giant is being cryptic about it. Perhaps at the GC's request?
Many are wondering just where has the Justice Department focused its probe? It turns out that beyond "advertising practices by certain advertisers," nobody is talking about the specific advertising problem, or the specific advertisers, reports Siliconvalleywatcher.com.
The only detail given in Google, Inc.'s 10Q filing with the SEC says the $500 million charge against quarterly earnings has to do with "an investigation by the United States Department of Justice into the use of Google advertising by certain advertisers," reports the New York Times.
So to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we know what we know, and we know what we know to be unknowns.
We know the Justice Department is investigating Google advertising practices.
We know the Justice Department is investigating Google for potential antitrust violations.
We know the European Union is investigating Google for antitrust violations in Europe, reports Reuters.
And we know Google has said "We believe [the investigation] will not have a material adverse effect on our business," as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.
The nearest we get to an explanation of what focus this probe might have comes from Reuters, which observes "there have also been a series of complaints made to regulators, many from Google rivals which specialize in vertical searches like price comparison websites, which are widely seen as a threat to Google's position as a key gateway to online information."
Stay tuned on this story. At this point, we just don't know what Google isn't saying about the Justice Department probe.
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