DOJ prepares to launch antitrust investigation into Google

The U.S. Department of Justice is reportedly getting ready to launch an investigation into alleged antitrust violations by Google.

The scrutiny into the tech giant’s practices may be coming as the antitrust division of the Justice Department has reportedly been laying the groundwork for an investigation, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

(Photo by Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly allowing the Justice Department to oversee an upcoming probe into Google’s business practices and critics of the company have apparently already been in contact with the agency. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the potential investigation as did Google.

“This is very big news, and overdue,” Republican Sen. Josh Hawley tweeted in response to the report.

An antitrust task force aimed at “monitoring competition in the tech industry” was launched by the FTC in February and the commission then referred complaints about Google to the Justice Department,

The FTC, which shares antitrust jurisdiction with the DOJ, conducted an inquiry in 2013 into the effect of Google’s practices on its competition. But the company suffered no serious repercussions as it voluntarily agreed to alter some of its business practices.

Antitrust watchdogs in the European Union have also targeted Google in the past, fining the company a total of about $10 billion for violations, according to Fox Business.

“An investigation of Google is likely to be politically popular on both the left and the right. The politics and the optics aren’t in Google’s favor,” Shira Ovide noted in an opinion piece for Bloomberg News published Saturday. “Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and the other tech giants should be quaking in their fleece vests.”

And while President Trump has spoken out against Google and the other big tech companies, Facebook and Amazon, for alleged bias in silencing conservative voices, the new crop of Democratic presidential candidates have also taken aim in their campaigns.

“Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society and our democracy,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote in blog post on Medium earlier this year. “They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.”

Stephen Kaufer, chief executive and co-founder of TripAdvisor, was glad to hear of an antitrust investigation by the DOJ.

“TripAdvisor remains concerned about Google’s practices in the United States, the EU and throughout the world,” he said in a statement. “For the good of consumers and competition on the internet, we welcome any renewed interest by U.S. regulators into Google’s anticompetitive behavior.”

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, met with Trump at the White House in March.

The president tweeted that the two “discussed political fairness and various things that @Google can do for our Country,” adding: “Meeting ended very well!”

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