U.S. DoJ Prepares Legal Action Against Google for Monopolistic Practices

By Bill Toulas / October 21, 2020

The U.S. Department of Justice is now officially accusing Google of setting up and operating an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising, building up sheer market power that can shape the very way consumers use the internet.

The 52-page lawsuit that was prepared by the American state office describes Google’s anti-competitive practices and the ways its monopoly extended over adjacent ecosystems like that of Apple’s. Google has been diligently and methodically building its search market dominance for many years, so the evidence is piling.

Of course, Google’s first response to this action was to characterize it “deeply flawed”, and we expect the legal case to last for quite a few years as the tech giant won’t just admit wrongdoing, pay fines, and move on.

This is a battle of giants in its beginning, as the U.S. state is looking to put bridles in the extensive power of the “Big Tech”, including Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Apple. These companies have influence over people that surpasses any other medium that’s under the indirect control or the scrutiny of the state, and this is no longer acceptable for the U.S. government.

Related: Google Clarifies Play Store Billing Amid Anti-Competition Accusations

If the DoJ manages to achieve a positive outcome with this move, we could see Google and the other big players being forced to sell parts of the companies to other entities, follow translucent contracting practices, or operate within a very specific and strict context. However, we are still at a very early stage, and all of that will be decided later on, depending on the lawsuit’s outcome. For now, the DoJ is focusing on proving the existence of the anti-competitive mechanisms that were set in motion by Google.

Surely, taking down Google in court won’t be easy even for the U.S. DoJ, as the tech giant operates a very strong legal team, has $120 billion in cash reserves, and has spent enough in lobbying in the United States to enjoy support on multiple levels. The main line of defense for Google will be that internet users simply prefer their search engine over what the competition has to offer, and they choose to use it consciously and not because they are forced or because there are no alternatives.

Luke Taylor, COO & founder at TrafficGuard, has provided the following comment on the above, which supports Google’s position:

The targeting of Chrome strikes many observers as odd. At no point has Google forced people to use Chrome. It’s not preinstalled as Internet Explorer once was on Windows. According to Statcounter, it has a 66% market share as of September, the market leader apparently by user choice. Although there could be grounds to argue Google breaches antitrust laws, particularly in online advertising, targeting Chrome makes no clear sense. Targeting Google search, likewise, has similar arguments. Google dominates search because it appears to have the best results, which explains why it has become a verb.

With the U.S. elections approaching and considering that the case will last for quite a few years, Democrats may be in power when the trial is actually underway. However, it doesn’t seem likely that we will see it withdrawn, even if the Democrats have not been as hostile to the Big Tech as the Trump administration did.

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