Google and the U.S. Department of Justice are said to be close to reaching a legal settlement over Google's intended $700 million acquisition of travel data company ITA Software, which was has been under scrutiny since the deal was announced last July.
Citing "people familiar with the matter," The Wall Street Journal reports that the proposal agreement, which would allow the purchase to go forward, is not finalized. That agreement, the Journal says, also lets the government keep an eye on Google for antitrust activities and could be made within days.
From the get-go, the proposed acquisition has faced challenges from the Department of Justice over whether the control of the travel software company would give Google too much power. Google has since set up a site that outlines its intentions with ITA, including honoring all existing agreements with companies that make use of ITA's data and technology in their services.
Nonetheless, groups including the coalition FairSearch.org have sprung up, contesting the buy, saying that it would give Google an upper hand against competitors, many of whom use ITA's technology.
ITA's core business is curating and indexing prices, flight schedules, and open seats, and offering the data to partners. The 500-person company has relationships with airlines and travel agencies and can be found powering sites like Kayak, Hotwire, and Orbitz. When Google first announced plans to buy the company, it said it intended to use ITA's technology to let users buy tickets directly from its search pages.
A report by Reuters, which also claimed that a deal was days away from completion, said the Justice Department was concerned with how Google planned to license the technology to competitors and that there was still some argument over how those competitors would be presented as part of Google's search results.
Google last week entered into a settlement agreement with the Federal Trade Commission over violating user privacy as part of the roll-out of its Buzz service last year.