As its investigation into Google's search practices continues, the Federal Trade Commission has hired a top outside lawyer for the case. The choice of an outside litigator is a rare one for the FTC—it's happened only twice in 10 years, the New York Times notes—and it suggests the case will likely go to court. The hire? Former DoJ prosecutor Beth Wilkinson, who was key to Timothy McVeigh's bombing conviction and has won all of the approximately 40 major cases she has led.
The case centers on whether Google has unfairly ensured that competitors' links don't turn up at the top of its search results; Wilkinson's hiring marks a "watershed moment," says a former FTC official. "This shows Google that if it doesn’t give you the remedy you want, you’re going to litigate." The potential filing of a suit would likely not happen for months, and if it does, Google will be ready. "Working on the investigation will be a great challenge. I don’t underestimate Google," Wilkinson says.