The U.S. states that are investigating Google for antitrust violations are leaning towards breaking up the firm, CNBC reports. The resulting breakup would split the firm’s advertising business away from the rest of the company.
There are 50 state attorneys general investigating Google alongside a separate U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, and it’s possible that the two will charge the company together. But either way, Google is expected to face U.S. antitrust charges within a few months.
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According to the CNBC report, the states are currently weighing several options to punish Google for its abuses, including behavioral changes and some combination of behavior and structural changes. But the leading option, right now, appears to be breaking up the firm.
Some believe that a breakup is unlikely because the two acquisitions that led to its dominance in the online ad market—DoubleClick in 2007 and AdMob in 2009—happened so long ago. And Google has been trying to wean itself from this singular source of revenue; a decade ago, 99 percent of Google’s revenues were derived solely from its ad business, but today that figure is closer to 82 percent.
Google’s dominance isn’t the issue, of course, it’s the abuse. And that abuse has been well-documented by a laundry list of companies that found themselves on the receiving end of Google’s artificial tailoring of search results that pushed Google services over those of third parties.
Google, of course, says that it has done no wrong.
“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 statement says. “The facts are clear. Our digital advertising products compete across a crowded industry with hundreds of rivals and technologies, and have helped lower costs for advertisers and consumers.”