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Report: DOJ launches probe into Google's digital advertising, search businesses

The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into Google LLC's digital advertising and search operations as part of a broader antitrust probe into tech companies, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources.

The probe will assess the "competitive conditions" in the online marketplace, including whether tech companies engage in practices that harm consumers.

As part of the inquiry, DOJ officials reportedly met with third-party companies that could have complaints against the Alphabet Inc. unit, including publishers, consumer-facing websites, advertisers and ad-tech firms.

The department's antitrust division seeks to narrow down the ultimate focus of its review, which is in the initial stages and could go on for months. Attorney General William Barr tapped a lawyer from the division to serve as his point person on the review, while Lauren Willard will serve as his counselor, according to Bloomberg News.

Earlier reports said the DOJ had been laying the groundwork for the investigation, with a task force formed to determine how Google arranges search results, how it integrates its search engine with its other services and its advertising practices.