US government preparing to launch antitrust probe into Google – reports

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Google risks falling under scrutiny again as the US Department of Justice (DOJ) gears up to investigate the IT giant after studying its ads and search policies, new reports say.

The DOJ is considering launching an antitrust investigation into Google, the Wall Street Journal wrote on Friday, citing sources. The story was quickly confirmed by several other media outlets.

The agency had reportedly decided to gear up against the Silicon Valley-based company after receiving several complaints, referred to it by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It is unclear what stage the government’s move is at, as some sources said the DOJ was making “early steps” in launching the probe, while others told reporters that it was “exploring” whether to do it.

The focus of the possible investigation was also not specified. However, it was mentioned that the government taskforce had been examining Google’s advertising and search practices. The company and the DOJ declined to comment on the issue.

The news feeds into growing concerns that tech giants like Google have become too influential on the global market. In March, the European Commission slapped the company with a €1.5 billion fine ($1.7 billion) for “abusive practices in online advertising.”

The same claims were echoed in the US, where some of the Democratic 2020 hopefuls, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, spearheaded a call to “break up” Google and other IT giants, such as Facebook and Amazon.

Google has been under scrutiny in recent years over allegations of political bias and the way it tackles ‘fake news.’ The company’s chief, Sundar Pichai, was grilled in Congress last December. During the exchange with the politicians on Capitol Hill, he had to defend things like pictures of President Donald Trump appearing after someone had Googled the word ‘idiot.’