Google is likely to face antitrust lawsuits from the U.S. Department of Justice and a group of state attorneys general, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
The news service said the Department of Justice could file the complaint this summer. In addition, some state attorneys general led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, are likely to file a case, probably in the fall.
At issue is Google’s online advertising business. The company owns the dominant tool at every link in the complex chain between online publishers and advertisers, the WSJ reported. While the Justice Department is focused on Google’s ad technology, it is also examining Google’s use of its dominant search engine to stifle competition, sources told the paper.
Attorney General William Barr told the Journal in March that he wanted the Justice Department to make a final call on the antitrust suit this summer.
“I’m hoping that we bring it to fruition early summer,” Barr said at the time. “And by fruition I mean, decision time.”
Paxton of Texas said the coronavirus pandemic has not slowed the states’ efforts in pursuing the case.
“We’ve issued [civil subpoenas] to Google and impacted third parties,” he told the WSJ in a statement. “We hope to have the investigation wrapped up by fall. If we determine that filing is merited we will go to court soon after that.”
In response, a Google spokeswoman said the technology firm is working with investigators.
“We don’t have any updates or comments on speculation,” the spokesperson told the news service. “Our focus is firmly on providing services that help consumers, support thousands of businesses and enable increased choice and competition.”
In 2019, attorneys general from 48 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico formally launched an investigation into Google. In February, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice met with representatives of state attorneys general to review collective investigations of the online search giant.