Prosecutors Eyeing Google’s Chrome Browser for Breakup

Justice Department and state prosecutors investigating Google for alleged antitrust violations are considering forcing it to sell its Chrome browser and parts of its advertising business, Politico reported Saturday.

The discussions come as the prosecutors prepare for an antitrust case expected to begin in  coming weeks, Politico reported, citing unnamed sources — noting the move could pave the way for the first court-ordered break-up of a U.S. company in decades.

Prosecutors have asked ad technology experts, industry rivals and media publishers for potential steps to weaken Google’s grip, according to Politico.

DOJ is separately preparing an antitrust suit accusing Google of abusing its control on the online search market, which the department could file as soon as next week, Politico has reported.

Google’s Chrome browser, which was introduced in 2008 and has the largest market share in the nation, has been at the center of rivals’ accusations that the search giant uses its access to users’ web histories to aid its advertising business.

Short of demanding Google sell the browser, prosecutors could also consider asking a court to limit how Google uses the data derived from Chrome to aid its other products, Politico reported.

Google has bought a string of ad tech properties to that help cover every stage of the process for both buying and selling online display ads — and making Google either unwind some of those acquisitions or sell off its business on either the buyer or seller side of the market are among possibilities being discussed, Politico reported.

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