Google designates $500M for Justice Department investigation

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Google has designated $500 million of its first-quarter earnings for potential charges stemming from a US Department of Justice investigation into its advertising business, according to company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The filings do not provide details of the investigation except that it involves “the use of Google advertising by certain advertisers.” Spokespersons for Google and the Department of Justice each declined comment.

Google had reported that advertising generated $8.3 billion in revenue in the first quarter, accounting for 97% of the company's total first-quarter revenue.

Google filed the regulatory documents hours after representatives from the Mountain View, Calif.-based company and the Department of Justice participated in a Senate hearing on mobile privacy. Google was summoned to testify, along with Apple, in the wake of news reports that the companies tracked the locations of consumers' mobile devices.

The Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against Google in April related to the company's proposed acquisition of travel industry software company ITA Software, which provides airfare pricing and information for travel sites such as Microsoft Corp.'s' Bing Travel, Orbitz and Kayak.

The department dropped the suit the same day it was filed and replaced it with a settlement that “assures that airfare comparison and booking websites will be able to compete effectively, providing benefits to consumers,” said Joseph Wayland, deputy assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, in a statement at the time.

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