US antitrust probes in Google expand to include Search: Report

The US federal and state authorities which are investigating Google may have expanded the scope of their antitrust probes to include Search, a core product of the company, the media reported.

Earlier, it was believed that the antitrust probes by the US Justice Department and state authorities focused mainly on Google’s advertising business.

According to a report in CNN on Friday, Justice Department investigators sought details about measures to increase competition in the online search market from a Google rival, DuckDuckGo.

The development also suggests that the Justice Department could be moving closer to bringing a case against Google, almost one year after the department announced its decision to probe the practices of market-leading online platforms.

DuckDuckGo discussed the same proposal with state and congressional officials in relation to their separate investigations into Google.

The proposal calls for a detailed preferences panel on Android so that users can pick a search provider of their choice from many.

DuckDuckGo Founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg told CNN that a solution like a search preference menu can enhance competition.

On Android devices, Google search had been the default for years. However, a fine imposed by the European Union in 2018 led Google to offer other search options to users.

While declined to comment on DuckDuckGo, which promotes itself as a privacy-protecting search engine, Google said it was continuing to cooperate with the state and federal investigations.

“Our focus is firmly on providing services that help consumers, support thousands of businesses, and enable increased choice and competition,” Julie Tarallo McAlister, a Google spokesperson, was quoted as saying.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal last month, the Justice Department is aiming to bring a case against Google as early as this summer.