Justice Department, State Attorneys General Likely to Bring Antitrust Lawsuits Against Google

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WASHINGTON—Both the Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general are likely to file antitrust lawsuits against Alphabet Inc.’s Google—and are well into planning for litigation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department is moving toward bringing a case as soon as this summer, some of the people said. At least some state attorneys general—led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican—are likely to file a case, probably in the fall, people familiar with the matter said.

Much of the states’ investigation has focused on Google’s online advertising business. The company owns the dominant tool at every link in the complex chain between online publishers and advertisers. The Justice Department likewise is making Google’s ad technology one of its points of emphasis. But it is also focusing more broadly on concerns that Google uses its dominant search business to stifle competition, people familiar with the matter said.

Details about the Justice Department’s legal theories for a case against Google couldn’t be learned.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has complicated work for the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barrhas devoted considerable resources to the Google probe and continues to treat it as a top priority. Mr. Barr told The Wall Street Journal in March that he wanted the Justice Department to make a final call this summer. “I’m hoping that we bring it to fruition early summer,” Mr. Barr said at the time. “And by fruition I mean, decision time.” – READ MORE

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