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Google Antitrust Lawsuit to Narrowly Focus on Search Dominance

By Rich Duprey – Sep 23, 2020 at 11:37AM

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Career lawyers at the Justice Department wanted to make a more sweeping case.

The Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit that is about to be filed against Alphabet's (GOOG -0.44%) (GOOGL -0.55%) Google will only focus on its dominance in internet searches and not the broader issue of its digital advertising policies, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Separate lawsuits by individual state attorneys general are likely to take up that issue, as well as ways in which Google and other social media companies impose political bias.

Gavel on laptop computer

Image source: Getty Images.

Ready to drop the hammer

According to the Times, U.S. Attorney General William Barr is pushing for a speedier but narrower case against the tech giant, reportedly against the wishes of career Justice Department lawyers who wanted more time to make a more sweeping case against Google.

The lawsuit was sparked by investigations the department launched last year against Google, Amazon (AMZN -1.44%), Apple (AAPL -0.34%), and Facebook (META 2.53%) over possible monopolistic abuses of power. Investigations by 48 states; Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico were also initiated.

In addition to Justice Department investigations, Google and the other tech companies also face probes from Great Britain and the European Union over their practices.

Google controls 90% of all search on the internet, but it is digital advertising that accounts for virtually all of its $34 billion in annual profit. State attorneys general are almost finished building their case and could take the lead in filing a lawsuit against Google, with the Justice Department joining in afterward.

The department is preparing to advise the states on its lawsuit, which is said to be one of the last steps necessary before filing it.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, and Facebook and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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