Google antitrust charges are reportedly imminent after Barr sets deadline

The Google logo is seen on a computer in this photo illustration in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2019.
(Image credit: ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Justice Department is reportedly getting ready to file antitrust charges against Google this month, though not everyone's on board with that timeline.

The DOJ is preparing to bring an antitrust case against Google "as soon as this month" after Attorney General William Barr "overruled career lawyers who said they needed more time to build a strong case," The New York Times reported on Thursday.

An inquiry into Alphabet, Google's parent company, was opened by the Justice Department in June 2019, and the probe has reportedly examined the company's business practices related to both search and advertising. The Times cites three sources as saying that during the investigation, the DOJ has "amassed powerful evidence of anticompetitive practices."

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However, the Times also reports that after officials from the DOJ told lawyers working on the inquiry to wrap up by the end of September, "most" of them opposed this deadline, feeling it was "arbitrary," and "some said they would not sign the complaint." In a memo over the summer, some of the lawyers reportedly argued they could "bring a strong case," but they said doing so would require more time, and they worry the deadline may actually "weaken their case and ultimately strengthen Google's hand," the Times writes.

Barr has reportedly argued the probe has not moved quickly enough and defended the September deadline. At the same time, the Times reports that some antitrust division staff members complain that Barr is "forcing them to come up with 'half-baked' cases so he could unveil a complaint by Sept. 30." Read more at The New York Times.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.