In a notably strong indication that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is planning to take on Google in its ongoing antitrust case, the agency revealed on Thursday that it has hired a prominent outside litigator to assume the charge of the antitrust probe against the company.
During the course of a meeting with the reporters on Thursday, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz disclosed that, from next week, the Google antitrust investigation will be taken over by Beth Wilkinson - a former Justice Department prosecutor who played a crucial role in the conviction of the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1997.
Since it is only two times in the last two years that FTC has hired an outside litigator, the move to bring Wilkinson on in the antitrust proceedings underscores the agency's evident plans to move beyond the preliminary stage of its investigations and initiate a legal process against Google.
Despite the fact that Leibowitz asserted that the hiring of Wilkinson did not necessarily imply that the FTC would file a lawsuit against Google, the move is still a noteworthy one as the agency is already investigating whether Google has abused its dominating position in the US search market, putting its rivals at a disadvantage.
Noting that the FTC is yet to reach a conclusion in the Google probe, the agency's commissioner J. Thomas Rosch said that "a world-class litigator" like Wilkinson would be a mentor to the FTC staff and would "carry out the duties of a trial lawyer."