The US Department of Justice (DOJ) may file a lawsuit against Google over its anticompetitive practices as soon as next week. The DOJ is currently urging state attorneys general to sign onto the suit, Reuters reports citing people familiar with the matter.
The lawsuit will reportedly accuse Google of abusing the dominance of its search engine. The company may have tried to disadvantage rivals such as Microsoft’s Bing by depriving them of user data and preferences. Such data would help its rivals improve their services and advertise to people.
The DOJ may also target Google’s “search advertising” business practices. These are the ads that appear along with search results when someone looks up for a consumer item. Google controls the sale of the spaces for those ads, as well as the tools to make those ad sales.
Google, however, has always denied these accusations and maintained that it hasn’t done anything wrong. The company says Search simply provides users access to other information sources, like Twitter for news and Amazon for products. It also argues that its advertising business competes with several others including Oracle and Verizon.
DOJ to file a lawsuit against Google
Following a year-long antitrust investigation into Google, the US DOJ is now seemingly all set to launch a lawsuit against the Alphabet-owned internet giant. Several state attorneys general are also independently investigating Google’s businesses. They are now in the process of considering whether to sign on to the federal lawsuit, the report adds.
The US DOJ and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had last year said that they had opened antitrust investigations into the big four tech stalwarts – Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. The Justice Department declined to a Reuters’ request for comment.
The news comes at a time when China is reportedly preparing to launch an antitrust investigation into Google. The Chinese authorities are looking into charges that the Mountain View company has hindered competition through the dominance of its Android mobile operating system. Officials from Beijing are currently reviewing a preliminary report. The decision on whether to proceed with a formal investigation may come within this month.
Authorities in India are also looking into charges of Google abusing its market position to unfairly promote its mobile payments app in the country. The Competition Commission of India had fined Google Rs. 1.35 billion (roughly $21 million) for “search bias” in February last year. The European Union (EU) had also fined the company 4.3 billion euros in 2018 over anti-competitive practices.