(Reuters) – A group of state attorneys general led by Texas are likely to file an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc’s Google and are working on potential litigation for later this year, a person familiar with the situation said on Friday.
FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Google logo is seen in this illustration taken April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
The Justice Department is also moving toward bringing a case as soon as this summer, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Shares of Alphabet fell about 1.5% in after-hours trading.
Google – along with Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc – are under a series of probes into allegations that the tech behemoths use their clout to unfairly defend their market share, including one by the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel.
The federal probe of Google focuses on search, advertising and management of its Android operating system. The Federal Trade Commission settled an antitrust investigation of Google in 2013 with a reprimand.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the multi-state investigation, said they were talking to companies who said that they had been hurt by the search and advertising giant.
“Our antitrust investigation into Google has not been slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic,” he said in a statement. “We hope to have the investigation wrapped up by fall. If we determine that filing is merited, we will go to court soon after that.”
Paxton said in February he has not taken any possible punishment off the table, including breaking up the search and advertising giant.
Google said it would not comment on speculation about the potential for litigation.
“We continue to engage with the ongoing investigations led by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Paxton, and we don’t have any updates or comments on speculation,” a Google spokesperson said in an email statement.
The Justice Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The four tech giants, which are powerhouses in search and online advertising, social media, online sales and smartphones, have caused concern among progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans alike because of their outsized clout.
The Justice Department is believed to be looking at all four companies while the FTC is probing Facebook and Amazon.com. Dozens of state attorneys general, led by New York, are also investigating Facebook.
Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Sonya Hepinstall