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Justice Dept. close to wrapping up Google antitrust probe

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The feds are reportedly close to wrapping up their antitrust investigation of Google as they consider whether to bring a lawsuit against the tech giant.

The US Department of Justice is waiting on a final set of documents before officials finish the probe, which is focused on Google’s dominance in online advertising, Reuters reported Friday.

The feds have sought information from companies worried about Google’s abuse of its position on the market along with data that could back up a lawsuit, which could be filed this summer, according to the news agency. The information is reportedly due by the end of June, though the deadline may be pushed back.

Federal officials are set to meet Friday with state attorneys general who are pursuing their own antitrust probe of Google, according to reports. The virtual meeting will focus on the reach of a potential lawsuit and whether the states will join the feds’ complaint or bring their own, The Wall Street Journal reported this week.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning. But a company spokeswoman told the Journal that it has continued to “engage with the ongoing investigations” led by US Attorney General William Barr and Texas AG Ken Paxton.

“Our focus is firmly on creating free products that help Americans every day and lower costs for small businesses,” the Google spokeswoman told the paper.

Both the feds and the states have reportedly dug into Google’s advertising business, which claims about a third of the world’s spending for online ads. The company also controls about 90 percent of the market for “ad tech tools” such as Google Ad Manager, which publishers use to sell advertising space, according to Reuters.

The Justice Department probe that started last year has also examined whether Google has restricted competition with its powerful internet search business, according to reports. Barr has taken a personal interest in the case and receives periodic updates on it from an aide, The New York Times reported Thursday.

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