The U.S. Department of Justice is gearing up to investigate antitrust violations by Alphabet Inc.'s subsidiary Google, focusing largely on the company's search practices, according to a Friday report from The Wall Street Journal.
The move thrusts Google back under the regulatory microscope in the United States roughly six years after another federal agency probed the search and advertising behemoth on grounds that its business practices threatened competitors - yet spared the company from major punishments.
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Google, the world's number one search engine which operates on an "aggregate and advertise" model, did not confirm whether it had been contacted by the DOJ. The scope of the sweep looks to include the company's primary search and online advertising operations.
The US Department of Justice is reportedly preparing to kick off an antitrust investigation of Google. Some experts say that given Google's political connections on both sides of the aisle, taking down the tech giant would be a "daunting task". Several other Democratic presidential candidates have also called for tighter regulations on Silicon Valley corporations. The Trump administration has also sought to study the matter: The DOJ convened state attorneys general previous year to explore the competition concerns posed by Google and other big tech companies.
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But the FTC opted in 2013 against forcing Google to alter broad swaths of its business, including the way it displays search results.
Google has faced questions about potential antitrust violations in the past.
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In March, European Union regulators fined Google $1.7 billion for abusing its market dominance by preventing its rivals from placing online search advertisers, ; in total, the EU has fined Google about $10 billion.