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U.S. Justice Department planning Google antitrust investigation over Search, more

The Department of Justice is planning to investigate Google over antitrust concerns, according to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg late on Friday evening. For the tech giant, this comes after several notable inquiries by the European Commission in recent years.

According to the WSJ, the Google antitrust investigation will look into the Alphabet company’s Search dominance and “other businesses.”

The DOJ’s antitrust division has been “laying the groundwork for the probe” over the past several weeks. The Federal Trade Commission, which also has regulatory authority, will let the Justice Department lead this inquiry.

This follows an FTC investigation in 2013 where no action was taken, but Google did implement voluntary changes related to patents and advertising. It included a look into whether Google was using its dominant position to demote competitors in results, or “search bias.”

With turf now settled, the department is preparing to closely examine Google’s business practices related to its search and other businesses, the people said.

Three European antitrust investigations in the past two years have fined Google $2.7 billion (Shopping), $5 billion (Android), and $1.69 billion (AdSense) In response to the mobile OS ruling, Google introduced a new licensing model that includes fees for OEMs in Europe to get certain apps.

Manufacturers can now also build devices running forked version of Android after the European Commission found a previous anti-fragmentation measure to be anti-competitive. Meanwhile, the Search app and Chrome can now be licensed independently of other Google services, like the Play Store or YouTube. Other changes include Google Play prompting and guiding users to install other search and browser apps.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: