Market Abuse: Google threatens new antitrust case in the US

Not only in Europe, but also in the US, Google has to expect a sharper control by the authorities. But a final decision of the Trump government is still pending.

The US search engine giant Google is threatened with a new lawsuit in the US for the possible misuse of its market power. Unlike the previous procedure, this time the US Department of Justice should conduct a similar investigation, the Wall Street Journal ( Paywall ) reported, citing people who are familiar with the subject. The US regulator FTC had set an antitrust case against Google in early 2013 , after the group had agreed to make some voluntary concessions.

According to the report, the FTC now agrees with the Justice Department to take the lead in the new investigation. Google’s practices in the search engine and other business areas will be scrutinized. Further details on the proposed investigation, the Wall Street Journal does not.

Special unit in the FTC

According to a report in the New York Times, the process could be based on the preliminary work of a special unit launched by the FTC in February. This working group was designed to examine competition in the US IT sector. The team of 17 FTC lawyers also looked at the advertising practices of Google and its influence on the advertising market. Should the US Department of Justice initiate an official investigation, this would be the first against a large IT corporation in the reign of US President Donald Trump, the newspaper said.

Trump accused Google of falsifying search results in August 2018. The US president had criticized in a tweet: “Google and others suppress the voices of conservatives and hide good information and news, they control what we can and can not see, this is a serious situation that will be discussed.” Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren called for the overthrow of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple in March 2019.

Already three billion penalties in Europe

In Europe, a billion- dollar penalty has already been imposed on the US company for abusing its dominant position. The search engine disadvantaged according to the EU Commission competitors in the online product search. The sentence imposed in June 2017 amounted to € 2.42 billion. In July 2018, followed by a penalty of 4.34 billion euros for market abuse in the mobile operating system Android. A third payment order of € 1.49 billion followed in March 2019 due to the obstruction of other providers in the search advertising market (Adsense for Search).

In addition, the Irish DPA is currently investigating whether the categorization of users on Google’s advertising networks is in line with the EU Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO). Google dominates together with the social network Facebook and the mail order company Amazon the global advertising market in the net. In the first quarter of 2019, however, missed Googles concert star alphabet, the expectations of the stock market.

Although sales had increased by 17 percent compared to the same quarter last year to $ 36.3 billion, analysts had expected an even higher increase in sales.