The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) may force Google to sell its Chrome browser. The Mountain View company may also require to part ways with a portion of its ad business. According to a recent report by Politico, DOJ, as well as state prosecutors probing Google for alleged antitrust violations, are considering these moves as a way to weaken the search giant's grip over the $162.3 billion global digital advertising market.
Discussions around these measures are ongoing but no final decision has been taken yet. If the prosecutors move ahead with this decision, then it could be the first court-ordered break-up of an American company in decades.
Prosecutors have reportedly also asked several ad tech experts, including Google's rivals and media publishers for potential steps to weaken the company's grip in the ad market, the report cites three people familiar with the matter.
This report comes just days after a US House subcommittee accused Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple of violating antitrust laws. In a 451-page long report, the subcommittee accused that Google has used "Android to entrench and extend its dominance in a host of ways that undermine competition."
"The overwhelmingly dominant provider of general online search is Google, which captures around 81 percent of all general search queries in the US on desktop and 94 percent on mobile," the report stated.
DOJ, state attorneys general may force a break-up of Google and Chrome
DOJ and state attorneys general investigating Google for these alleged antitrust violations are now mulling to break the company. They have reportedly asked industry experts for their views on which businesses Google should have to sell. The Chrome browser, which comes pre-installed on almost every Android smartphone, has come out as a potential target.
Chrome is one of the primary tools Google uses to strengthen its advertising business. The company uses it to track and collect data from users' online activities which, in turn, aids its advertising business. Separating Chrome from Google will certainly create a dent in the company's grip.
However, that grip is already way too strong, to say the least. In that regard, prosecutors are also considering forcing Google to sell part of its ad business as well. They are reportedly pondering over whether existing rivals should be off-limits as potential buyers.
In the event of prosecutors failing to force Google to sell Chrome, they may ask the court to limit how the company uses data derived from the browser to aid its other products, a fourth individual told Politico.
Other possibilities being discussed include requiring Google to unwind some of its previous acquisitions. The company has acquired several ad tech startups over the years. Those include DoubleClick, Admob, Invite Media, and AdMeld. All these acquisitions have helped Google bolster its market dominance.