What you need to know
- A new report says that the DOJ is almost done preparing its antitrust case against Google.
- William Barr has apparently been pushing to have the case finalized by the end of September.
- Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple were all questioned during an antitrust hearing in late-July.
This year has been filled with a lot of concern over antitrust issues with big tech companies, with one of the primary targets being Google. According to a new report from The New York Times, the United States Department of Justice is getting ready to issue its official antitrust case against it.
It's being reported that the antitrust case could be brought to Google's attention as soon as the end of September, with Attorney General William Barr pushing to have the case finalized as soon as possible.
Per the report:
The Justice Department plans to bring an antitrust case against Google as soon as this month, after Attorney General William P. Barr overruled career lawyers who said they needed more time to build a strong case against one of the world's wealthiest, most formidable technology companies, according to five people briefed on internal department conversations.
Justice Department officials told lawyers involved in the antitrust inquiry into Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube, to wrap up their work by the end of September, according to three of the people. Most of the 40-odd lawyers who had been working on the investigation opposed the deadline. Some said they would not sign the complaint, and several of them left the case this summer.
The U.S. government issuing an antitrust case against one of the largest tech brands on the planet is a big deal, so why the rush to get it out there as soon as possible if lawyers say they need more time? As suggested by The New York Times, it could be a tactical move for the Trump Administration as one final hoorah before the election this November.
Antitrust concerns around Google and other companies is something shared by Democrats and Republicans alike, so if the DOJ can get its case brought against Google ASAP, that gives Trump a good look leading up to November 3.
You can argue that's a smart move on the administration's part, but when looking just at the case, it could result in some trouble. As noted by the report:
Some argued this summer in a memo that ran hundreds of pages that they could bring a strong case but needed more time, according to people who described the document. Disagreement persisted among the team over how broad the complaint should be and what Google could do to resolve the problems the government uncovered. The lawyers viewed the deadline as arbitrary.
While there were disagreements about tactics, career lawyers also expressed concerns that Mr. Barr wanted to announce the case in September to take credit for action against a powerful tech company under the Trump administration.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai was joined by CEOs from Amazon, Apple, and Facebook on July 29 for a massive antitrust hearing regarding all four companies. There's clearly a lot of uncertainty within the government around the power and influence these brands have, so it'll be interesting to see how this case plays out and how Google responds to it.