AT&T Is Cooperating With Justice Department in Google Probe
The AT&T Inc. logo is displayed outside a store in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

AT&T Is Cooperating With Justice Department in Google Probe

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(Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc. is cooperating with the U.S. Justice Department in its Google investigation, which is exploring whether the online search and advertising giant violated antitrust laws, according to a person familiar to the situation.

The discussions are part of a probe into Google’s digital advertising and search operations, and antitrust officials have been meeting with a range of parties, people with knowledge of the matter have said previously. That includes discussions with companies and organizations other than those that have voiced complaints about google in the past, such as Oracle Corp., News Corp. and Yelp Inc.

Google controls much of the technology that online publishers and marketers use to serve ads across the internet. Media companies and rivals have complained that Google’s dominance hinders competition, and its business practices have brought scrutiny in both the U.S. and Europe.

The Justice Department said it doesn’t comment on specific investigations or meetings.

“As a general matter, it is usual for the department’s antitrust division to meet with a range of third parties during an investigation,” it said in a statement. “The department takes protecting the privacy of third parties seriously so as to protect them from any potential retribution from the target.”

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on AT&T’s talks with the Justice Department.

The company had its own clash with the Justice Department starting in 2017, when antitrust enforcers sued to block AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. But the telecom carrier ultimately prevailed and was able to close the transaction the following year.

AT&T has pushed deeper into online ads in recent years, putting it in Google’s orbit. It agreed to buy AppNexus in 2018, giving it an online-ad exchange that is now part of a business AT&T calls Xandr. AppNexus has been a frequent critic of Google’s practices.

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