ANTITRUST

DOJ, State AGs Could Combine Google Investigations

DOJ, State AGs Could Combine Google Probes

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officials will meet with U.S. state attorneys general to share information about the ongoing investigation into Google’s alleged antitrust violations, according to unnamed sources cited by Reuters. The probe is centered on whether Google’s monopoly of the online search world – and the ensuing advertising revenue it commands – represent an illegal form of market control.

According to Wall Street Journal reports, the meeting could eventually end with the state and federal forces combining their efforts where Google is concerned.

Other than online search, talks between the two groups will likely also focus on whether the Android operating system is another example of potential monopolistic control by Google, as well as the ideal allocation of investigatory labor among federal and state regulators. Thus far, U.S. federal and state authorities have not shared data about their concurrent investigations, according to internal sources cited by The Journal.

As of last year, attorneys general from 48 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico formally launched an investigation into Google. At least seven of the AGs involved in the investigation under Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have been invited to the meeting with DOJ officials

The potential combination of Google anti-competitive investigations comes just a week after Google’s parent company Alphabet became the fourth U.S. tech firm to reach $1 trillion market value, joining Apple, Amazon and Microsoft in the trillion-dollar valuation club.

“Google is one of those critical, important leaders in multiple areas,” Michael Lippert, manager of Baron Capital Opportunity Fund, told The Wall Street Journal. “You almost can’t live your life without Googling things.”

Regulators are beginning to wonder if Google’s market power has grown too large. But it isn’t the only trillion-dollarish firm out there – Apple and Amazon hit the trillion-dollar mark in the summer of 2018, and Microsoft reached the target in April 2019.

As of yet, neither the regulators nor Google have offered any official response to media queries about the meeting.

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