Google facing inquiry

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Google is to face anin-depth investigation which will seek to establish whether it has abused its dominance of the internet search market.

A formal antitrust investigation is to be launched by the American Federal Trade Commission, which could create a regulatory problem for Google similar to that which hit Microsoft a decade ago.

Bill Gates' company was forced to pay hefty fines as a result of the case brought against it at the turn of the century. It is understood the Google inquiry will delve into the heart of the company's business model, looking into how it manages its traditional revenue creator: search results advertising.

A five-member panel will also investigate whether the company uses its dominant position in the search market to stifle competition by favouring its own sites – such as YouTube and Gmail – in its results.

A Google spokesman denied the firm was unfair to competitors.