Federal Officials Looking into Potential Google Antitrust Lawsuit
A major antitrust complaint against Google is being prepared by the U.S. Justice Department and is briefing state officials working on lawsuits against the company.
Around 48 state attorneys general and federal investigators are being briefed of the matter, the result of which could be the largest antitrust suit since 1998 when the U.S. government accused Microsoft as being a monopoly.
According to antitrust regulators, the free go-to search engine and the free entertainment from YouTube provided by Google puts the company in a dominant state which results in stifling of the competition. This is similar to Microsoft’s case in 1998 when regulators contend that “a free web browser in Windows put other browser makers out of business.”
Joint Suit a Larger Threat
The briefing led by the Justice Department comes as the first step to getting the states to join the suit.
According to the agency, a joint suit of the individual cases could pose a larger threat to the tech giant. The federal case is said to focus on Google’s dominance in the search engine scene while the states are reported to focus on Google’s major role in online ad revenue.
Google has come under close scrutiny in Congress since they have gotten bigger, richer, and more dominant in the tech industry. In February, the company was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), together with other companies, to turn over documents regarding the company’s acquisition of other companies.
A Question of Reason for Acquisitions
Reasons for the acquisitions of other companies is key in the investigation as it shows whether they were done to support a company’s main mission or were accomplished to remove potential competitors in the industry. This is the case with Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.
Google announced in November that it was planning to acquire Fitbit, which concerned some members of the Congress. Investigations are underway to explore what drives the company’s profits, which includes personalized advertising that uses consumers’ data and understands how large tech companies gain monopoly power.
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