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Google reportedly under antitrust scrutiny for new internet encryption protocol

The new standard aims to improve security and privacy by encrypting internet traffic.

Google : Illustration

Google is reportedly under antitrust scrutiny for its plans to adopt a new DNS encryption protocol.

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Google's plans to use a new internet protocol has raised concerns among congressional antitrust investigators who worry it could give the company an unfair competitive advantage, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. Investigators want to know whether Google will use any data collected through the new protocol for commercial purposes.

Investigators for the House Judiciary Committee asked Google in a Sept. 13 letter for information about its "decision regarding whether to adopt or promote the adoption" of the protocol, the Journal reported.

The new standard, called DNS-over-HTTPS, aims to improve internet privacy and security by encrypting traffic, hampering hackers' ability to spoof websites. Google plans to begin testing the new protocol with users of its Chrome browser next month.

Privacy is on the front burner these days as consumers come to grips with just how much data companies have gathered from them. Facebook is still dealing with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the UK-based company obtained data on 87 million people without their permission.

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But the new standard could alter internet competition, with cable and wireless companies being cut off from much of users' valuable DNS surfing data. That would give Google an unfair advantage in user data, companies worry.

"Google has no plans to centralize or change people's DNS providers to Google by default," a Google spokesperson said. "Any claim that we are trying to become the centralized encrypted DNS provider is inaccurate." 

Leaders of the House Judiciary Committee are conducting an antitrust investigation of Google, as well as Apple, Amazon and Facebook, exploring competition in online markets and whether big tech companies are engaging in "anti-competitive conduct."

The House probe comes as tech giants faces a flood of scrutiny from government regulators, who've targeted tech companies over potential anti-competitive behaviorprivacy breaches and data misuse.