It seems like the Justice Department is preparing an antitrust investigation of Google, at least according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The source says that the information comes from “people familiar with the matter”.
The report claims that the Justice Department’s antitrust division has been laying the groundwork for the probe in recent weeks. This is not the first time Google is being investigated in this matter, some of you will remember that the Federal Trade Commission, actually conducted a broad antitrust investigation of the Mountain View giant years ago, but that investigation was closed in 2013.
Google actually made some voluntary changes to its business practices back then, some of them, in order to comply with the rules. Why are we mentioning this? Well, the Federal Trade Commission shares antitrust authority with the Justice Department, and the two departments have been in talks recently on who would oversee a new investigation. Based on the provided info, it seems like the Justice Department will.
The Justice Department is ready to make the first move now, as everything is prepared, based on the info provided by the Wall Street Journal. The Justice Department, Google, and FTC’s spokeswoman declined to comment on the information at this time.
If all of this information is accurate, that would put some unwanted spotlight on Google. The company has already been through the ordeal with the Federal Trade Commission, though, so at least it knows what to expect… even though this may be a somewhat different investigation as it is coming from a different department, and Google grew considerably since 2013, needless to say.
This also comes at a time when Google is trying to deal with all the Huawei-related issues that have surfaced since the US banned US companies to do business with one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world. Huawei did receive a 90-day grace period recently, to continue its business with existing products, but that won’t help the company much if the US doesn’t reconsider.
It has been reported that Huawei is working with Google to try and resolve issues surrounding this ban, but that doesn’t seem to be dependent on Google at this point. President Trump did say recently that Huawei’s ban could be lifted as part of a new trade deal with China, so there’s hope for Huawei in this regard.
Google is one of the most important puzzles in Huawei’s game (because of Android), as if this ban continues, Huawei’s future devices will not be able to continue running Android, basically. They will still have access to the open source part of the system, but will no longer be Google’s partner, and basically every important Google-related service will stop working, so it’s important for Huawei to resolve this. The ban also affects hardware-side of Huawei’s business, but that’s a completely different story. All in all, Google will have its hands full in the coming weeks / months with this ban and the probable antitrust investigation.