Could be huge
Google’s parent company Alphabet is coming under fire from the US Justice Department and various state attorneys with the potential for new antitrust lawsuits.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal , both the justice department and a group of state attorneys are deep into planning for litigation.
The primary focus of the various state attorneys’ investigations is Google’s online advertising business. The issue is that the company owns essentially every part of the complex process between online publishers and advertisers, which is where the antitrust label comes into play.
As for the Justice Department’s investigation, it’s more focused on Google’s dominant search business. The DOJ is investigating whether or not Google uses that dominance to smother its competition. However, the report also indicated that Google’s ad business would be a major point brought up in the Justice Department’s case.
The report indicated that the case could be brought forward as soon as this summer. In fact, in a statement to The WSJ in March, Attorney General William Barr said, “I’m hoping that we bring it to fruition early summer. And by fruition, I mean decision time.”
Both the federal and state antitrust investigations into Google are still ongoing as the people involved gather more information. While there has been no official decision yet, the report indicates that litigation is likely. Of course, there’s always a chance that the government’s investigation could lead to an agreement with Google outside of court, but only time will tell if that ends up being the case.
As both state and federal officials are conducting investigations into Google, it’s unclear whether there will be separate lawsuits brought forward or if the state attorneys will elect to join with the Justice Department and bring one complaint.
This isn’t the first time Google has faced an antitrust investigation. The FTC looked into the massive company in 2013 but closed its investigation citing that the evidence didn’t warrant litigation. Things have obviously changed a lot for Google since 2013, so the investigation could go the opposite direction this time.
According to The WSJ , an antitrust lawsuit against Google could be one of the biggest in history, ranking right up there with the legal issues Microsoft faced in the 1990s.