Google’s parent company Alphabet is under fire from the US Department of Justice and various state lawyers with the potential for new antitrust lawsuits.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, both the Justice Department and a group of state lawyers are deep in litigation planning.
Google’s online advertising business is the primary focus of investigations by the various state attorneys. The problem is that the company owns, in essence, every part of the complex process between online publishers and advertisers, where the antitrust label comes in.
As for investigation by the Justice Department, it is more focused on the dominant search business with Google. The DOJ is investigating whether Google is using that dominance to suppress its competition. However, the report also indicated that in the case of the Justice Department, Google’s ad business would be a major point brought up.
The report indicated the case could be brought forward as soon as the summer was over. In fact, attorney general William Barr said in a statement to The WSJ in March:
“I’m hoping that we bring it to fruition early summer. And by fruition, I mean decision time.”
This is not the first time Google has been confronted with an antitrust investigation. In 2013, the FTC looked into the massive company but closed its investigation citing the evidence as not sufficient to warrant litigation. Obviously things have changed a lot for Google since 2013 so this time the investigation could go in the opposite direction.
An antitrust lawsuit against Google could be one of the largest in history, ranking right up there with Microsoft’s legal problems faced in the 1990s, according to The WSJ.