WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice has accelerated an investigation into Google’s digital advertising practices and may file an antitrust lawsuit against the internet giant before the end of the year, two people with knowledge of the government’s thinking said on Wednesday.
The investigation focuses on Google’s power in the digital ad market, looking at how the company uses its dominance in auctions and ad technology to maintain its power, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. In recent weeks, the Justice Department has called in more third parties as witnesses and asked for documents and interviews, in a sign it has picked up the investigation’s pace, the people said.
The department declined to comment. Google said on Wednesday that there was “enormous competition in advertising tools, which has made online ads more relevant, reduced fees, and expanded options for publishers and advertisers.”
Bloomberg earlier reported on the potential lawsuit.
If the Justice Department pursues the lawsuit, it will be the federal government’s second against Google. In federal court in October, the department filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that Google abused its monopoly in internet search to harm rivals and consumers.
A second lawsuit would also be a show of force by the Biden administration to rein in the power of big tech companies. President Biden has appointed critics of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google into the top antitrust positions in…