The US Department of Justice (DoJ) was reportedly gearing up for an antitrust investigation of Google, creating fresh regulatory scrutiny for the search giant.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said the move comes following DoJ talks with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with which it shares antitrust authority. The FTC has previously probed Google, but not taken any significant action against the company.
In contrast, European regulators have taken action against Google related to search, advertising and its Android activities. While the scope of any DoJ investigation was not revealed, search and advertising will obviously feature, as could Google’s practices related to the Android platform.
WSJ said while it was not clear if Google had already been contacted, “third-party critics” of the company had been in touch with the authorities.
It was noted a DoJ probe comes as attitudes toward the major internet players shift, with concern about the influence they hold and their ability to sway both markets and individuals. US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has gone as far as to call for big tech companies to be broken up and, while others have stopped short of this, additional scrutiny may well be welcomed.
Google will, of course, not be an easy target for investigators. While it has undoubtedly achieved a scale that means its actions have a significant impact on competition, it can point to rivals in many key sectors and the ecosystem which has grown up around Android.
It also has a fair set of experience in dealing with regulators worldwide following earlier probes and investigations in other geographies: WSJ noted it has also built up a support network in Washington and across the wider US political landscape, despite vocal criticism from some.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back