Following a year-and-a-half long anti-trust investigation, the Wall Street Journal reports that Google is expected to escape a final determination by the Federal Trade Commission thanks to the enactment of a number of "voluntary" measures -- a consent decree which the FTC believes will address original anti-trust concerns.
The deal's details are largely unknown, but the WSJ speculates that making it easier for companies to advertise on its website and increasing ad portability may be just two of the actions planned by the search giant. FTC Chairman
Originally, Jon Leibowitz has said he expected the probe to be wrapped up by the end of 2012, Politico reports. A final jugement has not yet been made.
Google, like many enormous enterprises, shares a long and entangled history with both the FTC and the Department of Justice. In addition to its home-grown market dominance, acquisitions like DoubleClick, AdMob and ITA have placed Google squarely in the sights of government trust-busters on more than one occasion. Google has periodically been scrutinized for potentially leveraging its search dominance to unfairly push its own services, like Google Maps and Google Places. Whether it does or not has remained a pivotal question, however.
Another anti-trust probe is investigating Google for possibly mishandling its Motorola patent portfolio by not properly licensing patents and pursuing court-issued injunctions to block competitors' products.
Incidentally, Google was smacked with a $22.5 million fine earlier this year -- the largest fine of its kind ever imposed by the FTC -- over a cookie-based debacle where Safari users were misled into falsely believing they had opted out of certain types of advertising.