The Justice Department could file an antitrust suit against Google (and YouTube) parent Alphabet as soon as this month, according to The New York Times.
Google's market power and position as the dominant search engine have drawn record fines in Europe, but it has pretty much avoided similar treatment at home.
Attorney General Bill Barr signaled at his Senate confirmation hearing that if he got the job he wanted to investigate Big Tech and how it got that way "under the nose of antitrust enforcers." The Times reported that Barr was pushing Justice to file by month's end, while others in the department were suggesting they needed more time to build their case.
President Donald Trump and the Justice Department separately have set their sites on regulating content on social media platforms as Silicon Valley draws unprecedented attention from Washington to match its unprecedented market caps and power over information.
At a July 29 House Judiciary Committee hearing on whether Google and other giant edge providers are using their power anticompetitively, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said Google is in a long tradition of American innovation, "building products that are helpful to American users in moments big and small." He talked about small businesses using Google to grow.
As to whether Google is dominant, he said: "Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving. … People have more ways to search for information than ever before — and increasingly this is happening outside the context of only a search engine." he asserted.
It looks like the Justice Department does not see it that way.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.