The federal government notched up its investigation into whether Google unfairly manipulates search results Thursday with the hiring of former federal prosecutor Beth A. Wilkinson, now a partner at Paul Weiss in Washington, D.C. Wilkinson is one of the most highly regarded litigators in the U.S., most well known for prosecuting Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. In private practice she has defended the NFL in player concussion lawsuits as well as Pfizer and Philip Morris against product liability claims.
"Working on the investigation will be a great challenge," Wilkinson told the New York Times. "I don't underestimate Google."
The inquiry into whether Google abuses its market power centers on whether it manipulates search results to make it less likely that competing companies or products get good results.
The investigation by the Federal Trade Commission is one among a spate of investigations targeting Google, which controls 66 percent of the search market. The decision to hire Wilkinson is drawing comparisons to the Justice Department hiring David Boies in 1998 to challenge whether Microsoft abused its market power by bundling its Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system. Boies is currently representing Oracle against Google in a $1 billion trial before San Francisco federal judge William Alsup claiming Google illegally used Oracle's Java in its Android operating system.