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Google might be forced to sell its Chrome browser

The DoJ might order a breakup in order to reduce Google's power in the online search market

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) might force Google to sell off its Chrome browser along with its parts of its lucrative digital advertising business.

Politico reports that the DoJ is considering the option as a part of its investigation into Google’s alleged antitrust violations. In the case, which is expected to start in the coming weeks, the tech giant and its parent company Alphabet are accused of abusing their power in the online search market.

The report notes that discussions about how to resolve Google's dominance are "ongoing" and that no final decisions have yet been made.

Chrome, which was launched by Google in 2008, is the most popular browser in the world and has the largest market share in the US. However, it has been accused of using its access to users' browsing habits in order to aid its digital advertising business.

In January, Google announced that it would stop using third-party cookies, which are used to track users’ movements from page to page across the web, in its Chrome browser within the next two years. 

Mozilla and Apple had already banned and blocked third-party cookies in their Firefox and Safari browsers.

However, Google’s decision is expected to be considerably more impactful and is likely to reduce news outlets’ advertising revenues by as much as 62%.

According to a recent report by the US House Judiciary Committee: "Market participants are concerned that while Google phases out third-party cookies needed by other digital advertising companies, Google can still rely on data collected throughout its ecosystem”.

“Google’s ad-based business model can prompt questions about whether the standards Google chooses to introduce are ultimately designed primarily to serve Google’s interests,” the report added.

Google is reportedly working on an alternative to cookies called Turtledove. According to the tech giant, the system would better protect user privacy as data would be contained to their device instead of sharing it with outside servers. However, Turtledove is also faced with complaints that it could also further increase Google’s advertising power.

If the DoJ is successful in ordering Google to divest Chrome, this could be the first US court-ordered breakup in two decades. In 2000, Microsoft was ordered to split into two companies, but the ruling was ultimately overturned. Prior to that, AT&T was ordered to break into seven “Baby Bells” in 1982.

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