DOJ Hires Outside Counsel as It Readies Antitrust Case Against Google: Report

May 29, 2020 Updated: May 29, 2020

The Justice Department (DOJ) has hired outside litigators as part of their big tech probes, an indication the department is readying an antitrust suit against Google, according to a new report from Fox Business.

Last July, the DOJ announced that their department’s Antitrust Division is reviewing “market-leading online platforms” over a wide array of concerns relating to how they have “reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.”

Though the department has not publicly named which online platforms they were reviewing, it has been widely reported that they are probing Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.

Fox Business reporter Charles Gasparino, who first reported the move, said the hiring indicates the DOJ is “really preparing a case against Google” and that it is a “fairly big step.”

“When you go that step to hire an outside litigator, a tough outside litigator … you are preparing for a case,” he told the network.

Gasparino did not disclose who the outside counsel was, noting only that it was a “name brand.”

The Epoch Times reached out to the DOJ for comment on the development but did not immediately receive a response. A Google spokesperson also did not immediately respond.

Epoch Times Photo
Google’s main campus in Mountain View, Calif., on May 1, 2019. (Amy Osborne / AFP) (Photo credit should read AMY OSBORNE/AFP/Getty Images)

Attorney General William Barr said last year that the antitrust probes had been “moving very quickly” and that they were “talking very broadly with people and getting a lot of input from people in the industry and experts.”

Barr told the Wall Street Journal CEO Council that the review was not just focused on antitrust issues, but also anti-competitive behavior. He said at the time the probes would be completed “some time” this year.

Days ago, the state of Arizona filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Google, alleging that the company used “unfair” practices to track the location data of its users even after they had turned off the tracking function. A Google spokesperson told The Epoch Times that the suit “mischaracterized” their services and that they have “always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data.”

A congressional committee and subcommittee are also investigating all four big tech companies, and the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing one or more of them.

At an early hearing of the antitrust panel in July, executives of the four companies pushed back against lawmakers’ accusations that they operate as monopolies, laying out ways in which they say they compete fairly, yet vigorously, against rivals in the marketplace.

Meanwhile, the attorneys general of 48 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have also opened an antitrust probe into Google and the company’s “potential monopolistic behavior.” The investigation is being led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who formally made the announcement on Sept. 9. 2019.

Follow Bowen on Twitter: @BowenXiao_