The Justice Department is gearing up to launch an investigation into Google to find out if it engaged in antitrust practices.
Reuters, citing two sources familiar with the matter, reported the investigation will focus on whether or not Google gave its owned businesses preference in search queries. The U.S. Department of Justice joins other regulators in going after Google for anti-competitive behaviors. The European Union has already fined Google billions of dollars and called for reforms of how it does business. The impending lawsuit comes as The Washington Post reports the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission inked a deal to split oversight of Google and Facebook. The FTC gets more jurisdiction over Facebook while The Department of Justice gets increased scrutiny of Google.
Google, Facebook, and other technology companies have been facing backlash from lawmakers and regulators around the globe. Some of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for the breakup of technology titans. In the case of Google, the potential antitrust inquiry stems from complaints from internet companies including Yelp and TripAdvisor. They contend Google favors its own services in search results, which is anti-competitive. Google contends it’s transparent about promoting its own services and that it doesn’t favor any business but is focused on benefiting internet users, reported Reuters. Google has already settled with the FTC back in 2013. It was seen as a victory for Google since it only required it to make little changes to its business practices. In 2017 Google settled with the EU, agreeing to pay $2.7 billion. The EU contended Google steered business toward its eCommerce sites over rivals.
While lawmakers have been calling for Google to be broken up, Reuters reported it’s not that common. The Justice Department would need to prove Google hurt competition. The more likely outcome is Google would be forced to change business practices, reported Reuters.