ANTITRUST

DOJ Wavers On Timeline For Possible Google Antitrust Lawsuit

Some Department of Justice (DOJ) staffers don't agree with Attorney General William Barr's decision to level a swift antitrust case against Google parent Alphabet, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

The timeline is too aggressive for some of their tastes, according to WSJ, and some of them believe the DOJ's case isn't ready yet.

There are millions of pages of evidence in question, and members of the DOJ aren’t sure they have the right evidence to contend in court that Alphabet has violated antitrust laws and stifled competition. There are multiple teams on the job — one is looking into Google's search practices, where the evidence might not be enough to decisively state a case yet, WSJ reported.

Another group is looking into online advertising practices. In that case, the complexities and ins-and-outs of Google's system and how it affects the larger digital world have made the group think it needs more time to parse the issues, according to WSJ.

But Barr has said he plans to move forward and have a decision on whether or not to sue Google by the summer's end. A DOJ official said it's a necessity because of how fast damage can be dealt to smaller companies trying to compete in the same fields as Google does, WSJ reported.

“While we continue to engage with ongoing investigations, our focus is firmly on providing free services that help people every day, lower costs for small businesses, and enable increased choice and competition,” a Google spokeswoman said, as reported by WSJ.

One option the DOJ has is to file a case in two parts; one about the search practices and another on advertising, although nothing has been decided.

Federal investigators had asked competitors to submit information about how Google's practices were harmful by the end of June. Google is under investigation by numerous state attorneys general, who gathered in fall 2019 to look into whether the search engine giant had been abusing its position.

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