U.S. Justice Department bolsters antitrust staff to work on online platform probe

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Department of Justice building is seen ahead of the release of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Justice Department beefed up its online platform investigation team on Wednesday by adding Ryan Shores, formerly a partner with an international law firm, to help oversee its probe of Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and other big tech firms.

Shores, who comes from the law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP, was named to join the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, which oversees the Antitrust Division, among others, the department said. At Shearman, Shores, who had clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, focused on antitrust and other complex litigation in federal and state courts.

The department said in July it was opening a probe of big high tech firms into whether they break antitrust law. It declined to name the companies but said the review would consider concerns raised about “search, social media, and some retail services online” -- an apparent reference to Google,, Facebook and potentially Apple Inc.

“The addition of Associate Deputy Attorney General Ryan A. Shores for this important role reflects the significance of the Department’s review of competitive conditions among online platforms,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen in a statement. “His years of high-stakes antitrust and litigation expertise will bring invaluable experience to the review as he works closely with our Antitrust Division.”

Shores’ formal title will be associate deputy attorney general and senior advisor for technology industries.

Reporting by Diane Bartz, Editing by Franklin Paul