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Google faces government investigation over Waze buyout

24 Jun 2013
Google logo (Robert Scoble Flickr)

Google has confirmed that it has been contacted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US over its acquisition of the mapping service Waze.

Bloomberg reported the confirmation from Google, but no more details were forthcoming from the search giant. V3 contacted Google about the investigation, but the company declined to comment.

Nevertheless, the investigation from the FTC would make sense as concerns around Google's dominance in the mapping market surfaced almost immediately after the firm bought Israel-based Waze. The deal, two weeks ago, was worth a rumoured $1bn and came following claims rivals Facebook and Apple were eyeing the service too.

Immediately following the purchase, US-based Consumer Watchdog sent an open letter to the FTC, urging it to take action. "Google already dominates the online mapping business with Google Maps," it read. The letter went on expressing concern over the lack of competition with Google: "Now with the proposed Waze acquisition the internet giant would remove the most viable competitor to Google Maps in the mobile space," it said.

Waze makes use of GPS data from smartphones to build up a crowd-sourced traffic map, allowing users to make changes to their routes on-the-fly depending on traffic conditions, and currently boasts 50 million users.

According to Waze's company blog post, which broke the news of the acquisition, the company's operations will not change in the short term, and the firm will remain in Israel.

"Google is committed to help us achieve our common goal and provide us with the independence and resources we need to succeed," it said. "We evaluated many options and believe Google is the best partner for Waze, our map editors, area managers, champs and nearly 50 million Wazers globally."

The FTC is the consumer protection body of the United States, and is the authority on antitrust regulation in the country. It has previously investigated Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility and its conduct over ad sales.

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Michael Passingham

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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