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Alphabet Facing Antitrust Suits From DOJ, State AGs: Report

Planning for litigation against search giant Google’s parent Alphabet is well under way.
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The U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general are moving forward with plans to file antitrust lawsuits against Google parent Alphabet  (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Report, according to a published report late Friday.

Cases are expected to be filed as early as this summer, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Regulatory risks are among the three top challenges facing Alphabet in 2020, TheStreet noted in December.

Alphabet and other big tech names have been under investigation for about a year by both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission over practices involving consumer privacy and data collection, among other issues.

The Justice Department is focusing on how Google leverages its dominant search business to stifle competition, The Journal reported.

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State attorneys general launched their own coordinated efforts last September.

Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton is among those leading a multi-state investigation of Google’s “overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers,” according to a statement released at the time. “We have seen evidence that Google’s business practices may have undermined consumer choice, stifled innovation, violated users’ privacy, and put Google in control of the flow and dissemination of online information,” Paxton said in  the statement at the time.

In addition to U.S. probes, Alphabet has faced record fines in Europe in recent years for antitrust violations. The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust regulatory body, opened another investigation into Google’s data collection practices last November.

Alphabet has said it is cooperating with state and federal investigations into its practices.

Shares of Alphabet fell $22.89, or 1.7%, to $1,350.17 in after-hours trading Friday. The stock ended the regular session up 1.2%.

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