The Justice Department and state attorneys general are expected to sue Google as soon as next week for alleged antitrust abuses, people familiar with discussions said Friday, marking a dramatic escalation of Washington’s fight to rein in Silicon Valley’s giants.
The Justice Department — which has been probing Google for 16 months — circulated text of a proposed complaint this week, according to three people with knowledge of the discussion. The complaint could come late next week or just after the Columbus Day holiday, two of the people said. All spoke anonymously to discuss an ongoing investigation.
The Justice Department and state prosecutors also spoke Friday afternoon to go over the proposed antitrust suit, two of the people said.
The long-expected suit — the United States’ biggest legal salvo in decades against an alleged corporate monopoly — will accuse the company of abusing its stranglehold on the online search market. The complaint is expected to include claims on Google’s contracts with smartphone manufacturers and Apple to make it the default search engine on mobile devices and touch on other aspects of Google’s search business.
The number of states that received the complaint and joined Friday’s call couldn’t immediately be determined. The Justice Department has been eager to attract Democratic support to avoid allegations the suit is politically motivated. However, some of the key Democratic-led states involved in the probe, including Colorado and Iowa, have pushed for a broader suit targeting Google’s search business and may opt against joining the DOJ’s effort in order to file their own complaint later.
Last week, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry told CNBC and Bloomberg last week that he was ready to sign on to a Justice Department suit.
The DOJ and state attorneys general led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have also been probing the search giant over its control of the advertising technology market. Texas and other state AGs expected to file a separate complaint focused on that aspect of Google’s business empire in the next weeks, according to two of the people. But they are still in talks with the Justice Department about teaming up, they said.
A Google spokesperson didn’t have an immediate comment.