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FTC urged to investigate Google probe leaks

The Federal Trade Commission's nearly two-year antitrust investigation into Google ended last week with the web giant getting a slap on the wrist, but a US congressman now wants to know how information about the probe was leaked to the media before the results were publicly announced.

Republican Darrell Issa (see image, top), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is urging the FTC to investigate whether officials within the agency disclosed nonpublic information about the Google case to media outlets. on 3 January, Issa sent a letter to FTC Inspector General General Scott Wilson calling for a timely investigation into the issue.

In the letter, obtained by Mashable, Issa notes that it is illegal for the FTC to share investigation details before a probe is complete. Any such leaks are also counterproductive to the investigative process, he added.

"Throughout the process, nonpublic information about developments in the investigation has been inappropriately shared with the media. It is believed that the commission may be contributing to, or is the source of, this information," Issa wrote in the letter.

Information about the FTC probe was reported by several media outlets before the FTC went public with the results. All those reports cited anonymous sources.

The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson reportedly told Mashable that the commission has received the letter.

The FTC on 3 January concluded its far-reaching investigation into Google with a two-pronged order. Going forward, Google's Motorola subsidiary must license its standard-essential patents on a fair and reasonable basis, while Google has also agreed to stop certain practices that unfairly burden its rivals.

However, the FTC did not find that Google unfairly manipulated its search results to highlight its own products and demote competing firms.