Google faces barrage of antitrust cases in the United States
U.S. federal and state regulators are ready to file antitrust lawsuits claiming that Google has exploited its online search and advertising dominance to stamp out competition and increase its profits.
The Wall Street Journal referenced unidentified people familiar with the probes in a story about the upcoming campaign by the U.S. Justice Department and the attorneys general from multiple states.
The Department of Justice could file their case as early as this summer while Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could seek action in the fall, along with his counterparts in other states.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has previously said he wanted to determine whether to seek an antitrust lawsuit against Google by the summer. Texas and other states announced they were investigating Google’s business practices last September.
Google confirmed that it has continued discussions with the Department of Justice and Paxton without elaborating on the scope of the negotiations. “We are strongly focused on delivering services that benefit customers, support thousands of companies, and encourage expanded choice and competitiveness,” the company said in a statement.
This is not the first time in the U.S. that Google has been put under the antitrust microscope. The Federal Trade Commission closed a thorough investigation into the suspected abuses allegedly committed by Google in 2013 without taking any action because it found that the Mountain View, California company did not affect any of its customers.
Google has since become even more powerful under the corporate parent’s umbrella, Alphabet, which it spawned five years ago. Google was generating annual sales of USD 50 billion when the FTC closed the case. Last year, Alphabet raked in USD 162 billion in sales.
Most of the revenue comes from a Google-dominated digital ad industry along with social networking competitor Facebook, another possible target for antitrust regulators. However, there has been no word as to whether Facebook could be sued.
Google is the larger of the two internet advertising giants, mainly due to a search engine that’s been synonymous with looking stuff up. The group also operates Chrome, the leading web browser, the world’s largest smartphone operating system in Android, the most popular video site in YouTube, and the most recognised digital mapping platform.
Google has continually kept its offerings affordable and launched innovations that help people navigate their lives. In return for personal information that lets Google sell its adverts, most of the services are available for free.
Europe’s antitrust regulators have sought to crack down on Google by enforcing multibillion-dollar fines and ordering improvements in its practices.
But the organisations’ critics argue that those penalties haven’t been severe enough and believe more drastic measures will be needed to force Google to change its ways. Those may involve a government attempt to push Google to split its multiple services into separate businesses, an initiative the company would be likely to oppose vigorously.