The tech industry may get a new jolt of anti-trust clarification soon, as the Department of Justice is readying a new antitrust probe into Google. The probe could find that Goolge has hampered competition, and the ramifications could be broad. The Wall Street Journal reports:
As Google cemented its powerful position in recent years, the tech giant’s executives said they believed they were helping web users get information and letting publishers and advertisers connect more efficiently.
Rivals saw a more sinister goal, and the question now is whether U.S. regulators will determine that the firm’s efforts squelched competition.
The Justice Department is preparing to launch a fresh antitrust probe into Google, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, setting up a potential clash over how to regulate one of the world’s most powerful companies and perhaps the tech industry more broadly.
Within Google, each new product or feature it rolled out in recent years was billed as a way to help web users search for information without hunting all over the web, and let advertisers and publishers make swift connections without too many middlemen. In Google’s parlance, the goal was to eliminate “friction.”
But rivals said the cumulative impact was to enhance Google’s dominance further. Over the past several years, more than a dozen of Google’s competitors streamed to Washington to make that case.
Those complaints, which tech rivals had been raising for close to a decade, have evolved and intensified along with Google’s practices. They also coincided with a shifting regulatory environment, as a bipartisan collection of powerful lawmakers—including President Trump and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.)—over the past year have raised concerns about the power of Silicon Valley’s giants. In February, the Federal Trade Commission launched a new task force devoted to antitrust in technology, in a sign to competitors that their complaints were gaining traction.
Google’s competitors are pressing antitrust enforcers to look far and wide at the company’s practices. Perhaps the most common complaint against Google around the world in recent years is that it uses its search engine to privilege its own content at the expense of its competitors’.
Read more here.
Jeremy Jones, CFA
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