Google Confirms Government Scrutiny, Says It Must Hand Over Antitrust Records

Google Confirms Government Scrutiny, Says It Must Hand Over Antitrust Records

The U.S. Department of Justice is mandating that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, hand over any information regarding previous antitrust investigations into the tech giant, Google announced Friday.

This marks the company’s first public admission that it’s among the companies being reviewed as part of a wide-ranging, antitrust investigation the Justice Department launched in July. According to an SEC filing also made public Friday, the company has acknowledged an additional probe into its practices from “more than half” of the state attorneys general expected to be announced Monday, as the Washington Post reported earlier this week.

“The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions,” Google’s senior vice president Tom Kent wrote in a blog post Friday. “We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so.”

It’s unclear what that information entails, but it’ll likely include documents and findings from the Federal Trade Commission’s 2013 probe into Google’s business practices over concerns that it was throttling the smartphone and online search advertising markets.

Big tech companies have been facing increased scrutiny throughout this year as privacy scandals, in particular, continue to make headlines. Google’s disclosure comes on the heels of news from earlier today that New York’s attorney general plans to launch a multi-state antitrust probe into Facebook. The social media giant has also confirmed it’s being investigated by both the FTC and the DOJ for antitrust violations. The FTC recently fined Facebook a record $US5 ($7) billion for privacy abuses linked to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a measure many Democrats denounced as a slap on the wrist.

In July, the Justice Department announced it was launching a probe into “market-leading online platforms” to review whether these companies “reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.” The move came after months of deliberation between the DOJ and FTC, both of which possess antitrust powers, as the two coordinated which companies to investigate among the big names in tech such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.