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UK regulator seeks comment on Google's Waze acquisition

The Office of Fair Trade is asking for the public to speak up about the acquisition of the smaller mapping technology company, the Financial Times reports.

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Google Maps now includes Waze traffic reports.
Google Maps now includes Waze traffic reports. Google

The UK Office of Fair Trade, a competition regulator, has begun seeking comments on Google's acquisition of map app maker Waze.

With the $966 million acquisition in June, Google got access to Waze technology that gathers data from drivers, such as traffic trouble spots and accidents, to help others navigate better. Google has begun integrating Waze data into Google Maps and has brought Google Maps' satellite imagery and Street View technology to the Waze app.

The Office of Fair Trade "issued an Invitation To Comment on the merger this morning," spokesman Elliott Ball said Tuesday.

With that measure, customers, competitors, suppliers, and other third parties may register complaints about anti-competitive implications of the move. The Office of Fair Trade then presents adverse views to the company involved -- Google, in this case -- for a response. The Office of Fair Trade then decides what action to take, including referring the case to the UK's Competition Commission for further action.

The Office of Fair Trade's call for comment is the first sign of European regulatory scrutiny of the acquisition. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission reportedly is scrutinizing Google's Waze acquisition.

The UK office is seeking comment about whether Google's acquisition crosses thresholds that could mean more serious investigation is warranted, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

CNET has contacted the Office of Fair Trade for comment and will update this story with its response.

Google has tangled with competition regulators on several occasions in the past regarding acquisitions and its own search practices, but thus far has avoided major penalties. Mapping is a hot right now as technology giants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Nokia seek to profit from navigation tasks in the mobile technology market.

Updated 7:37 a.m. PT with confirmation from the Office of Fair Trade.