DOJ May Partner with States on Google Antitrust Probe

The Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general will meet on Friday to discuss the scope of a possible antitrust suit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Federal and state officials will discuss how best to proceed with the suit, although it is not yet clear how many states …

The Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general will meet on Friday to discuss the scope of a possible antitrust suit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Federal and state officials will discuss how best to proceed with the suit, although it is not yet clear how many states will be joining the effort. At issue is whether states will join a federal suit or conduct independent cases against Google.

An antitrust suit will likely be brought against Google this summer, people familiar with the details told the Journal.

“We continue to engage with the ongoing investigations led by Attorney General Barr and Texas Attorney General Paxton,” said a Google spokeswoman. “Our focus is firmly on creating free products that help Americans every day and lower costs for small businesses.”

At issue in the prospective suit is Google’s dominance in several markets, including the online advertising business for which Google controls much of the links between advertisers and consumers. There are also suspicions that Google may use its dominance as a search engine to advance its own products.

“The evidence of anticompetitive conduct in search technology is striking, and deserves scrutiny,” Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) said on Tuesday. “I’m optimistic DOJ will do its due diligence and follow the facts.”

The prospective suit was reported taken over by Attorney General William Barr in March. Barr has in the past shown willingness to scrutinize big tech companies.

““The avenues for sharing information and engaging in discourse have concentrated in the hands of a few key players,” Barr said in February. “The early days of online public bulletin boards, like AOL, have been replaced by platforms with sophisticated content-moderation tools, algorithms, recommendation features, and targeting.

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