DOJ Nearing Decision On Antitrust Suit Against Google

DOJ Nearing Decision On Google Antitrust Suit

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is nearing the end of its antitrust investigation of Alphabet Inc’s Google as it considers whether to charge the tech giant this summer, Reuters reported.

Federal investigators have asked Google’s competitors to provide details about the alleged abuse of its advertising power by June 30. The information could be used to support a complaint against Google, sources told the news service.

Last fall, most of the country’s state attorneys generals gathered on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to announce a bipartisan investigation into whether the company has abused its position in the online advertising market. Each state has launched separate probes.

“I can’t remember the last time you had just about everybody get on the train,” William Kovacic, a former Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chairman under President George W. Bush, said at the time.

The state attorneys general are also considering going after the company for privacy lapses by using statutes that bar deceptive practices, according to one source.

At the same time, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has ongoing investigations into Google, Inc., Facebook Inc. and Apple Inc.

Google has also faced accusations of abusing its dominance of Android, its smartphone operating system. Yelp has said Google favors its own products in search results. 

Google provides free web searches, email and other services, but makes money through advertising. It controls one-third of the world’s online ad spending, but 90 percent of the market for some ad tech tools. This includes Google Ad Manager, software that publishers use to sell space for display ads, the report said.

On Tuesday (June 23), PYMNTS reported that Justice Department officials and some state attorneys general were planning a virtual meeting to discuss the probe and may join forces.

Dozens of state attorneys general, led by Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton, will be asked to join the federal lawsuit, and many are expected do so, a source told Reuters.

The Justice Department and Google declined to comment. 

NetChoice, the Washington-based coalition of online businesses, whose members include Google, insists that digital ad prices have fallen as competition has increased.

In 1998, the Justice Department won a suit against Microsoft, which was overturned on appeal. The two sides settled in 2001.