DoJ Investigates Google Search Domination, Approaches DuckDuckGo

Investigators at the US Department of Justice (DoJ) have reportedly approached Google search rival DuckDuckGo about their investigation.

The DoJ reportedly asked DuckDuckGo for detailed information about ways to increase competition in the online search market, Bloomberg reported.

The European Union in 2018 fined Google 4.3 billion euros (£3.86bn) after finding that “illegal restrictions” Google had placed on Android allowed it to “cement its dominant position in general internet search”. Google is appealing.

Antitrust investigation

Meanwhile in the United States, it is known that state and federal investigators have been probing Google’s Android dominance, digital advertising and other issues.

But with no charges filed against Google, very little is known about the progress of the US investigations.

But now DuckDuckGo revealed to Bloomberg that US federal and state authorities are asking detailed questions about how to limit Google’s power in the online search market as part of their antitrust investigations into the tech giant.

It should be remembered that search is by far Google’s largest business.

As it stands, the Alphabet unit owns around 93 percent of the search market with revenue around $100 billion.

Rivals such as Bing and DuckDuckGo remain far behind in terms of market share and revenue.

Alternative choice

DuckDuckGo is a privacy-focused search engine and its CEO Gabriel Weinberg told Bloomberg that his company has spoken with state regulators, and talked with the US DoJ as recently as a few weeks ago.

Justice Department officials and state attorneys general reportedly asked the company about requiring Google to give consumers alternatives to its search engine on Android devices and in Google’s Chrome web browser, Weinberg said in an interview.

“We’ve been talking to all of them about search and all of them have asked us detailed search questions,” he reportedly added.

The comments by Weinberg show that US authorities are examining Google’s search engine domination and could suggest an official case is being built against the Alphabet division.

“We continue to engage with the ongoing investigations led by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Paxton, and we don’t have any updates or comments on speculation,” a Google spokeswoman told Bloomberg.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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