DOJ Lawyers Reportedly Believe Agency Is Moving Too Fast On A Potential Antitrust Lawsuit Targeting Lawsuit

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys who are involved in an antitrust investigation targeting Google believe the agency is moving too fast in pursuit of a lawsuit against the tech giant, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

A group of lawyers concentrating exclusively on the DOJ’s investigation into the company’s search practices worry that there is not enough evidence that Google is using its dominance in that field to stifle competition, the report noted, citing people familiar with the probe. A separate group within the agency is focused on probing the company’s online advertising business, The WSJ reported.

The group of attorneys focused on Google’s advertising practices also believes that a lawsuit should not be rushed as they weed through the complex issues related to that aspect of the company’s business, The WSJ reported. (RELATED: ANALYSIS: DOJ Investigators Involved In Antitrust Probe Don’t Appear To Be Scrutinizing Claims Of Bias In Google’s Search)

The DOJ opened the investigation in August and has worked closely with the states on the probe, according to multiple reports. Reports from The Wall Street Journal in May and CNBC in June suggest the DOJ and Paxton are well into the planning stages of an antitrust lawsuit. Attorney General William Barr appears to believe the investigative process is moving along fine.

“Things are moving along to my satisfaction in terms of the timing. I’m hoping to make a decision by the end of the summer,” Barr said in an interview with The WSJ. He was responding to a question about Google. Sources inside the DOJ said a potential antitrust lawsuit targeting Google could happen by the end of summer, according to media reports.

FILE PHOTO: A Google logo is shown at one of the company’s office complexes in Irvine, California, United States, July 27, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The DOJ has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

“While we continue to engage with ongoing investigations, our focus is firmly on providing free services that help people every day, lower costs for small businesses, and enable increased choice and competition,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement to The WSJ.

A source who spoke with investigators told the DCNF in June that their understanding is that the probe is largely eschewing concerns about Google self-preferencing its products in its search engine. The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, argued that Google will be free to manipulate search results if the DOJ doesn’t act quickly.

Media reports, meanwhile, are raising fears that the company is acting in an anti-competitive way. Google consistently accounts for roughly 90% of online information searches, Vox reported in May, citing Google Trends. A DCNF report in 2018 showed the company’s employees have expressed willingness to artificially manipulate search results on the platform.

The attorneys general from nearly every state in the country, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, announced investigations in September focused on Google’s dominance in advertising as well. The probe was led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, and has expanded into other elements of the company’s business.

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