May 17, 2020
Anti-monopoly groups are celebrating news that the Justice Department and state attorneys general are investigating online behemoth Google for possible antitrust cases.
"An antitrust case against Google is long overdue, said Sarah Miller, executive director of the Economic Liberties Project. "We hope that state attorneys general and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division address the long-standing monopoly power of Google, which has more than 90% of the mobile search market and, alongside Facebook, dominates digital advertising."
News of the investigation and the likely filing of a case broke Friday in the Wall Street Journal, which quoted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton as saying his office had issued subpoenas to the company an impacted third parties.
"We hope to have the investigation wrapped up by fall," said Paxton. "If we determine that filing is merited we will go to court soon after that."
The states' investigation has been mostly focused on Google's online advertising business, according to the report, though CNBC previously reported that its scope had expanded to include both search and its Android mobile operating system. Even if some states bring a suit against Google related to its ad business, it's possible others could choose to pursue separate cases following different legal theories.
The DOJ's probe has focused on Google's ad business, but also more broadly on allegations that it has used its dominance in the search market to squash competitors, according to the Journal. The publication was not able to learn which legal theories the DOJ would seek to pursue if it brings a case.
In a statement, Google said it was continuing "to engage with the ongoing investigations led by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Paxton."
"We don't have any updates or comments on speculation," a company spokeswoman toldMarket Watch. "Our focus is firmly on providing services that help consumers, support thousands of businesses, and enable increased choice and competition."
As the New York Timesreported, Google's dominance of the internet is daunting:
Google captures roughly one-third of every dollar spent in online advertising. Its search engine is the on-ramp to the internet and controls what information users see, while the company owns many of the critical tools and technologies used to advertise online. It also boasts seven businesses with more than one billion users.
"If you thought the antitrust cases of big tech were a memory, you'd be mistaken," tweetedTimes reporter Cecilia Kang.
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