The US Department of Justice (DOJ) and a group of state attorneys general are likely to file antitrust lawsuits against Google.
According to the Wall Street Journal, people familiar with the matter said that the DOJ is moving toward bringing a case this summer. Some state attorneys general, lead by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, are reportedly likely to bring a case in the fall. The states’s investigations have focused on Google’s advertising business, an arena where the company enjoys dominance at every point in the process.
The suits would make the search and advertising giant the first huge tech company to face concrete action from more than a year of probes, which have also swept up Facebook, Amazon and Apple as possible targets.
The DOJ and states would aim to prove that Google’s dominant position in the online advertising marketplace constitutes a monopoly that the company has used to squelch competitors. They could also take aim at its dominance of search. Google, on the other hand, would aim to show that its mostly free products and services benefit consumers.
The case would be the first major U.S. antitrust action against a dominant technology company since the Clinton administration’s pursuit of Microsoft in the 1990s. But the DOJ’s antitrust inquiries into Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley powers has become a priority for Attorney General William Barr, who has asserted greater control of the probes and has said he wants to make a decision on Google by the summer.
Google acknowledged it has ongoing discussions with the Justice Department and Paxton without elaborating on the nature of the talks. “Our focus is firmly on providing services that help consumers, support thousands of businesses, and enable increased choice and competition,” the company said in a statement.