Google says it’s received a demand from the DOJ to hand over documents on past government probes of its business, and it expects more to come

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai

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Google CEO, Sundar Pichai
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  • In an SEC filing made public on Friday, Google’s parent company Alphabet told investors that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested information about its past antitrust investigations.
  • “On August 30, 2019, Alphabet received a civil investigative demand from the DOJ requesting information and documents relating to our prior antitrust investigations in the United States and elsewhere,” the SEC filing read.
  • Earlier this summer, The Wall Street Journal reported that the DOJ was planning an investigation into Google over its search and other businesses.
  • The SEC filing released on Friday is the first acknowledgement from the search giant that it’s the target of an antitrust probe by the Department of Justice.

In an SEC filing made public on Friday, Google’s parent company Alphabet told investors that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has requested information about its past antitrust investigations.

“On August 30, 2019, Alphabet received a civil investigative demand from the DOJ requesting information and documents relating to our prior antitrust investigations in the United States and elsewhere,” the SEC filing read. “We expect to receive in the future similar investigative demands from state attorneys general. We continue to cooperate with the DOJ, federal and state regulators in the United States, and other regulators around the world.”

The filing released on Friday is the first acknowledgement from the search giant that it’s the target of an antitrust probe by the Department of Justice. Earlier this summer, The Wall Street Journal reported that the DOJ – one of the federal agencies with the authority to carry out antitrust probes, along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – was planning an investigation into Google over its search and other businesses.

Previously, in the company’s most recent quarterly earnings report, Alphabet said that it had “received increased regulatory scrutiny in recent months” and that it would “continue to cooperate” with regulatory agencies, but did not provide any specifics.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that an antitrust investigation into Google was being prepared by “more than half” of the nation’s state attorneys general and could be announced as early as Monday, September 9th.

In conjunction with the SEC filing being made public on Friday, Kent Walker, Google’s SVP of Global, released a blog post, acknowledging the recent DOJ requests for information.

“Google’s services help people, create more choice, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the United States,” Walker wrote, in part. “We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so.”

Some of the information requested will likely come from the FTC’s 2013 antitrust investigation of Google’s search and smartphone business practices. At that time, Google walked away from the encounter without incurring any financial penalties and having committed itself only to vague promises to change some business practices – an outcome derided by many critics as a slap on the wrist.

A Google spokesperson declined to comment and referred Business Insider to Walker’s blog post. The DOJ did not respond to a request for comment.