ONLINE travel world in a frenzy over informed speculation that Google may buy ITA Software. Most of the hype surrounds Google’s mooted move into meta-search. But there’s two other sides to this story – data and conflict of interest. ITA Software powers airfare search for online retailers including Expedia (Hotwire), Kayak, Orbitz, Bing and cleartrip plus carriers like Alaska Airlines and Continental Airlines. All are serious Google advertisers, spending tens of millions on search advertising every year. Now there’s a chance Google will be powering their internal search (harvesting intimate data) while selling them search advertising AND directly competing with its own meta-search product… You’ve got to be joking. This deal as reported can’t happen without serious compromise.

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