Googling AOL While the DOJ Probes

America Online on Wednesday lifted the wraps of its new
search engine, announcing technology from search engine upstart Google would
be digging for results for its millions of users.

The new AOL Search has been tweaked
to provide results from Google’s massive index of billions of Web documents
and from within AOL’s own system, the first time a search engine would index
both at the same time.

A spokesperson for AOL said Google won’t have access to its proprietary system, which would continue to be indexed internally by AOL.

The search tool has also added a feature to allow AOL members to retrieve
localized results, based on geographic mapping.

The new engine, which will be a key part of this fall’s launch of AOL 8.0, promises
the easiest and fastest way for AOL members to run searches online but, more
importantly, it’s a huge boost of Google’s ‘sponsored links’ advertising
business as it finds millions of new eyeballs for its business partners.

Google swiped the
AOL deal
from under the nose of rival Overture in May and is now
powering search results across AOL’s U.S properties, including
Compuserve.com, AOL.com and Netscape.

Google now gets to push links to its own recommended partners and
advertisers to America Online users.

For users of AOL’s dial-up and broadband ISP users, the company continues to
use the ‘Keyword’ feature on the navigation toolbar but, instead of only
searching within AOL properties, AOL Search will now return everything that
Google indexes.

AOL Search also includes a Sherlock plug-in for
user’s of Mac operating systems.

AOL’s launch of the new Google-powered search engine comes on the same day
news emerged the Justice Department would investigate accounting practices
at AOL Time Warner.

According to published reports, U.S. prosecutors at AOL’s Virginia
headquarters are working along with investigators from the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) to look into certain transactions at the company’s
Internet division.

AOL/TW chief executive Dick Parsons said the company would cooperate with
the SEC probe. In a statement Tuesday, AOL/TW said it would also cooperate
with the DOJ. “If the Justice Department wants to look at the facts, of
course we will cooperate with them too, as we would with any other
appropriate government agency,” the media giant said. “Our accounting is
appropriate and in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles,
and our auditors, Ernst & Young, have repeatedly confirmed that,” the
company added.

Reports say investigators are believed to be focusing on accounting
questions raised by a recent Washington Post study of the company’s Internet
division. The newspaper’s study reported that AOL had booked revenue from
ads sold for eBay and renegotiated long-term advertising contracts to
recognize revenue more quickly.

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