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Senate antitrust chair telegraphs probe of Google

The chairman of the Senate subcommittee on antitrust has put Google on notice that he plans to step up oversight of the search giant's market position and potentially anticompetitive behavior this Congress.

Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) has historically warned of anticompetitive concerns associated with controversial mergers, including some of Google's, such as the acquisition of DoubleClick, which was ultimately approved.

Kohl on Thursday announced his [agenda](http://kohl.senate.gov/newsroom/pressrelease.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1464=4332) for the Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, which ranges from freight railroad to health care and pharmaceuticals, but also singles out sectors of the tech industry, with one company -- Google -- at the top of the list.

"In recent years, the dominance over Internet search of the world's largest search engine, Google, has increased and Google has increasingly sought to acquire e-commerce sites in myriad businesses," Kohl said. "In this regard, we will closely examine allegations raised by e-commerce websites that compete with Google that they are being treated unfairly in search ranking, and in their ability to purchase search advertising. We also will continue to closely examine the impact of further acquisitions in this sector."

Additionally, the chairman said he plans to probe competition in the broadband access market, a subject of considerable disagreement among industry players and the advocacy organizations that press for conditions such as net neutrality, which Kohl said would factor into his examination.

Kohl also said he would keep an eye on the implementation of the Comcast-NBC Universal merger to ensure the combined entity adheres to the conditions regulators imposed on the transaction, with a particular focus on the continued availability of rival Web video services.

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