U.S. Justice Department Edges Toward Google Antitrust Investigation

The probe will likely focus on Google's Search business and advertising practices.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) may soon be leading an antitrust investigation against Google reported Friday evening The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The probe was further confirmed by The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Bloomberg.

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Unscathed So Far

While the scope of DOJ's possible investigation remains unclear, there is speculation that the probe will focus on Google's search business and advertising practices. So far, Google has managed to remain unscathed in the U.S. despite investigations.

In 2013, Google was under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The probe resulted simply in the firm pledging to change certain aspects of its business.

This pales in comparison to the antitrust fines levied against Google by the European Union. The EU has now fined Google an exorbitant total of €8.2 billion ($9.3 billion) for its Search practices and its bundling of proprietary apps on Android smartphones.

Controversies Abound

So far Google has also managed to escape the heat taken by Facebook and Twitter over Russian interference in the 2016 US election. But it has had its fair share of controversies.

Its work for instance with the Pentagon in AI development has seen a lot of backlash. It has also had issues with repeated Gmail and Chrome privacy violation and child exploitation on YouTube amongst others.

None of these issues fall under antitrust category but they do engender a certain distrust of the firm. Add to that the animosity that has been building toward big tech about its ever-growing dominance and its lack of clear action toward tackling serious problems and you have cause for worry.

One thing is for sure, whether the antitrust investigation happens or not, the company is being scrutinized. "The companies ought to be careful about how they behave at this moment," said to CNN Business Gene Kimmelman, a former Justice Department antitrust official.

 

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