US Justice Department reportedly plans to investigate Google for antitrust violations

US Justice Department reportedly plans to investigate Google for antitrust violations

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Following a $5 billion fine imposed by the European Commission, Google changed how it packaged search applications and browser choices on Android devices sold in the EU. That came only a few years after Google was forced to pay $2.7 billion for manipulating search results to prioritize its own shopping services. The company is also being investigated by Irish data protection commissioners. Now, the United States Department of Justice reportedly plans to investigate Google for antitrust violations. This has been independently reported by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Bloomberg.

It is said that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s antitrust task force will be handing the case to the DoJ’s antitrust division, despite the FTC having successfully charged Google back in 2012 for the use of tracking cookies that bypassed Apple Safari’s default privacy settings and, as a result, served targeted advertisements. That case was settled with a $22.5 million civil penalty. Google was again subject to investigation by the FTC in 2013, though the case was closed with a unanimous vote by five FTC commissioners. Google then said it would change how it handles search practices tied to advertising to reduce its invasion of privacy.

The renewed probe may focus on Google’s search business, according to The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, it may focus on how Google arranges search results, per The New York TimesThe New York Times also alleges the investigators are looking into Google’s “advertising practices and influence in the online advertising industry.” Google has been subject to scrutiny from a large number of Republican politicians in the U.S., and even major Democratic presidential candidates are espousing views that the tech company should be broken up. With how powerful companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook have become, it’s no surprise that big tech companies are facing a lot of pushback from politicians and the public.

Source 1: The Wall Street Journal/ Source 2: The New York Times/ Source 3: Bloomberg