The DOJ is reportedly prepared to file a broad antitrust lawsuit against Apple

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) could file “a sweeping antitrust case” against Apple as soon as the first half of this year, according to The New York Times. The report says the agency is in “the late stages” of its investigation, focusing on the company’s control over hardware and software services and how its “walled garden” approach has allegedly made it harder for rivals to compete and customers to switch to competing products.

The New York Times report says the investigation has expanded beyond what was previously reported, according to people with knowledge of the meetings. Among other areas, its scope has allegedly covered how the Apple Watch is more tightly integrated with iPhone services than rival wearables and how it locks competing platforms out of iMessage.

Executives from Beeper, which got into a public spat with Apple late last year over the iPhone maker’s blocking of the app’s iMessage integration on Android, reportedly talked with investigators. In addition, Tile, which has made Bluetooth trackers since long before the AirTag existed, allegedly sat down with the DOJ, too. The agency is said to have “had conversations with” representatives from banking and payment apps about Apple’s practice of blocking rivals from using tap-to-pay on the iPhone.

Meta also reportedly talked with investigators. The social company allegedly “encouraged” the DOJ to look into Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy tool in its meetings. ATT, launched in 2021, lets users hinder advertisers’ data collection, a feature Meta said in 2022 could cost it $10 billion that year. The NYT claims investigators have also looked into Apple’s cut of digital purchases made on the iPhone, a point Spotify, Epic Games and dating corporation Match Group have been vocal about in recent years.

The federal government currently has its hands full with Big Tech antitrust cases. The DOJ is pursuing two antitrust cases against Google (one for search and another for advertising), while the FTC has sued Meta and Amazon.

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