US Department of Justice ‘preparing Google antitrust probe’

Google is facing a US antitrust investigation, reports claim

The US Justice Department is readying an investigation into Google, according to widespread media reports.

The probe would examine whether the Alphabet-owned tech giant broke antitrust law in the operation of its online businesses, it has been claimed. The DOJ is said to have been making its preparations in recent weeks.

News of the potential investigation was broken by The Wall Street Journal on Friday. Its exact nature remains unclear but one source told Reuters it would focus on Google’s search business.

Google has already faced similar investigations in Europe. In March, the company was on the receiving end of a €1.5bn (£1.28bn) fine from EU regulators over antitrust violations.

The fine was linked to its AdSense service, with the EU ruling that the terms it forced on companies were unfair. They included preventing rivals from appearing in online search ads from “exclusivity contracts” with publishers.

The €1.5bn fine was the third that the EU commission had made against Google in the past two years.

In 2018, it slapped the firm with a €4.3bn fine relating to its Android mobile operating system that was used to unfairly undercut rivals in the mobile phone market and a €2.4bn fine for promoting its own shopping service over rivals.

The supposedly imminent US investigation is the latest sign of the increasing scrutiny facing the world’s major tech businesses.

President Trump has accused social media sites of supressing conservative voices, and recently invited the public to submit proof to advance the argument.