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Justice Department reportedly set to bring antitrust suit against Google

The suit could focus on advertising and search dominance, a report says.

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Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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  • I've been covering technology and mobile for 12 years, first as a telecommunications reporter and assistant editor at ZDNet in Australia, then as CNET's West Coast head of breaking news, and now in the Thought Leadership team.
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Google could be about to face another antitrust suit.

Angela Lang/CNET

The US Department of Justice and multiple state attorneys general are reportedly preparing to bring another antitrust lawsuit against Google over its online advertising and search engine dominance. The suit could be filed in summer and would explore whether Google uses its dominant position to suppress competition, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing unnamed sources.

"I'm hoping that we bring it to fruition early summer," Attorney General William Barr told the Journal back in March. "And by fruition I mean decision time."

In March, Sens. Josh Hawley and Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Barr, pushing for an antitrust review into Google's search practices. Google has dominance in advertising because of "its enormous search engine market share," their March 10 letter said. "Google's online advertising conduct is inextricably linked to Google's search activities," the letter said. "At more than 90% of the global market share for search, the opportunities for anticompetitive conduct are substantial."

The letter suggested that Google attained search engine dominance "through illicit means," pointing to the European Union fining Google $2.7 billion for manipulating search results in its favor.

Google's digital advertising practices are already the subject of an antitrust probe by 50 attorneys general. The probe was announced in September 2019, with 48 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico taking part in the investigation of whether Google uses anticompetitive practices to achieve dominance.

Google and the Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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