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US Justice Department Prepares to Launch Google Antitrust Inquiry: Report

TripAdvisor chief executive and co-founder Stephen Kaufer welcomed news that Google could face Justice Department antitrust scrutiny

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"Google, YouTube, Snapchat, Shopify, all currently down. Is the internet melting?" asked one Twitter post. VOA

The U.S. Justice Department is preparing an investigation of Alphabet Inc.’s Google to determine whether the tech giant broke antitrust law in operating its sprawling online businesses, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Officials from the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Federal Trade Commission, which both enforce antitrust law, met in recent weeks to give Justice jurisdiction over Google, said the sources, who sought anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

The potential investigation represents the latest attack on a tech company by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has accused social media companies and Google of suppressing conservative voices on their platforms online.

One source said the potential investigation, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, focused on accusations that Google gave preference to its own businesses in searches.

A spokesman for the Justice Department said he could not confirm or deny that an investigation was being considered.

Google declined comment.

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FILE – A photo combo of images shows, clockwise, from upper left: a Google sign, the Twitter app, YouTube TV logo and the Facebook app. VOA

FTC investigation

Early in 2013, the FTC closed a long-running investigation of Google, giving it a slap on the wrist. Under FTC pressure, Google agreed to end the practice of “scraping” reviews and other data from rivals’ websites for its own products, and to let advertisers export data to independently assess campaigns.

Google’s search, YouTube, reviews, maps and other businesses, which are largely free to consumers but financed through advertising, have catapulted it from a startup to one of the world’s richest companies in just two decades.

Along the way, it has made enemies in both the tech world, who have complained to law enforcers about its market dominance, and in Washington, where lawmakers have complained about issues from its alleged political bias to its plans for China.

Some welcome news

TripAdvisor chief executive and co-founder Stephen Kaufer welcomed news that Google could face Justice Department antitrust scrutiny.

“TripAdvisor remains concerned about Google’s practices in the United States, the EU and throughout the world,” Kaufer said in a statement. “For the good of consumers and competition on the internet, we welcome any renewed interest by U.S. regulators into Google’s anticompetitive behavior.”

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has pushed for action to break up Google, as well as other big tech companies. Senator Kamala Harris, who is also running for president on the Democratic ticket, has agreed.

ALSO READ: Tech Giant Google Faces Anti-trust Probe by US Justice Department

“This is very big news, and overdue,” Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican Google critic, said Twitter, regarding the investigation. Google has faced a plethora of overseas probes.

Europe’s competition authority, for one, hit Google with a 2.4-billion-euro ($2.7-billion) EU fine two years ago for unfairly promoting its own comparison shopping service. Google has since offered to allow competitors to bid for advertising space at the top of a search page, giving them the chance to compete on equal terms. (VOA)

Next Story

‘My Greatest Mistake’: Bill Gates Regrets Microsoft Losing on Android

Gates stepped down as the CEO in 2000 and as Chief Software Architect in 2008. Satya Nadella took over as the company's CEO in 2014

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Businessman Bill Gates exits through the lobby at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, Dec. 13, 2016. (VOA)

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has said that his “greatest mistake ever” was the company losing on the Android opportunity, which has costed Microsoft nearly $400 billion and made Google the real winner.

In an interview during an event hosted by venture capital firm Village Global, Gates revealed that the mistake was to allow Google to develop Android and not creating a profitable model themselves, reports TechCrunch.

“In the software world, particularly for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets. So the greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. That is, Android is the standard non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win,” Gates told Eventbrite cofounder and CEO Julia Hartz.

“If you’re there with half as many apps or 90 per cent as many apps, you’re on your way to complete doom. There’s room for exactly one non-Apple operating system and what’s that worth? $400 billion that would be transferred from company G (Google) to company M (Microsoft),” he emphasised.

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FILE – A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Google acquired Android for just $50 million in 2005. The original iPhone came out in 2007 and the first Android device was released in 2008.

Android today has 85 per cent of the smartphone OS market and Microsoft Windows OS-based devices are nowhere to be seen.

Also Read: Spotify Paying Tax on Less Than 1% of Paid Subscribers: Apple

Microsoft has asked its users to switch to an Android or iOS device as it announced the end of support for Windows 10 Mobile.

The company told users that Windows 10 Mobile will stop receiving new security updates after December 10.

Gates stepped down as the CEO in 2000 and as Chief Software Architect in 2008. Satya Nadella took over as the company’s CEO in 2014. (IANS)