The feds are stepping up efforts of their long-running probe of the Google Maps service, including yet one more potential headache for the tech big throughout a interval of mounting scrutiny from the Justice Division.
The probe is concentrated on Google’s sprawling mapping enterprise, which features a huge stockpile of location information for companies and different factors of public curiosity. Google Maps outcomes are built-in into the corporate’s search engine, considered one of its chief sources of income.
DOJ officers have met with Google rivals and prospects whereas searching for extra data on the mapping enterprise, Politico reported on Wednesday, citing three sources with data of the probe.
Antitrust officers are assessing whether or not Google has engaged in anticompetitive practices by requiring app builders to make use of its map and search merchandise collectively, relatively than permit them to hunt out competing companies. The requirement is included in Google’s phrases of service.
An antitrust lawsuit concentrating on Google Maps might be filed as quickly as this yr, the sources mentioned, although they confused no remaining choice was made and the precise particulars of a possible criticism had been nonetheless being thought of.
Google’s restrictions have rankled a few of its rivals, together with Garmin and Mapbox, who questioned the coverage throughout a listening to on Capitol Hill in February 2021, in accordance with Bloomberg. Critics argue the restrictions stifle competitors.
Google has argued the restrictions round its mapping enterprise are supposed to give customers obtain correct data.
“Builders select to make use of Google Maps Platform out of many choices as a result of they acknowledge it gives useful, high-quality data,” Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels mentioned in an announcement. “They’re additionally free to make use of different mapping companies along with Google Maps Platform — and plenty of do.”
The DOJ’s probe of Google Maps’ enterprise practices first surfaced in late 2020. Reuters reported final March that officers had “breathed new life” into the investigation, however particulars had been scarce within the months since.
The Submit has reached out to Google and the Justice Division for remark.
Google and different Massive Tech corporations have confronted elevated federal scrutiny in recent times.
Earlier this week, Google appeared earlier than the US Supreme Court docket for oral arguments on a case centered on Part 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects web corporations from legal responsibility for third-party content material posed on their platforms.
The Justice Division additionally joined with a bunch of eight states in January to sue Google for allegedly monopolizing the digital promoting market.
A separate federal lawsuit accusing Google of holding an unlawful monopoly over on-line search was filed in October 2020.