Nation & World

Reports: Justice Dept. preparing antitrust probe of Google

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Justice Department is readying an investigation of Google’s business practices and whether they violate antitrust law, according to news reports.

The search giant was fined a record $2.72 billion by European regulators in 2017 for abusing its dominance of the online search market. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission made an antitrust investigation of Google but closed it in 2013 without taking action.

Now the Justice Department has undertaken an antitrust probe of the company’s search and other businesses, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Bloomberg News. They cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.

Justice Department spokesman Jeremy Edwards declined to comment Saturday. Google also declined to comment.

Google has faced mounting scrutiny as regulators worldwide have focused on tech companies’ business practices over the past year. In March, European regulators slapped a $1.7 billion penalty on the company for barring websites from selling ads from rivals alongside some Google-served ads near search results.

Google says it has now ended that practice.

The company made changes voluntarily when the FTC shut down its investigation, including letting advertisers use information from their Google ad campaigns to create campaigns with rivals.

But an FTC staff report that was released years later showed that the agency staff had urged the presidentially-appointed commissioners to bring a lawsuit against Google. That never happened.

Google commands the lead in digital ad revenue by a wide margin, controlling 31.1% of global digital ad dollars, according to eMarketer’s 2019 estimates. Facebook is a distant second with 20.2%.

Politicians and outside antitrust analysts have expressed concern in recent years that Google controls too much of the digital ad process. It makes the technology, hosts the largest search site where ads appear and collects data from all ad campaigns that it runs.

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com and all Shaw Media Illinois content from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.