The Justice Department (DoJ) is preparing a potential antitrust investigation of Google to examine the tech giant’s internal practices and search rankings, according to the Wall Street Journal.
DoJ shares antitrust authority with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – which had previously investigated Google but closed it in 2013 without taking action – and after the two bodies discussed who would oversee the new Google antitrust investigation, FTC agreed to give DoJ jurisdiction, according to the report.
Although Google, DoJ, and FTC have not commented on the matter, the investigation turns the spotlight to Google in a time when other tech giants and large internet companies have faced scrutiny for becoming too powerful and irresponsibly managing user data. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for instance, called for the breakup of some of America’s largest tech companies earlier this year, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has also criticized big tech.
Klobuchar and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, T-Tenn., recently wrote a letter to the FTC requesting it to take action in response to their rising concern over tech company antitrust and privacy matters.
Proponents of big tech companies, however, argue that the giants have network advantages and the opportunity to use their large data caches in innovative ways. Many other companies rely on big tech’s platforms to also run their own businesses, making the economic impact of breaking up companies like Google difficult.
Antitrust officials at DoJ and FTC, however, have publicly said the competition concerns of big tech merit close attention.