October 13, 2020

U.S. Government Plans to File Antitrust Complaints Against Google

The U.S. government plans to file antitrust complaints against Google. Attorney General William Bar has filed a lawsuit against Google for illegal monopoly of the advertising and search markets, initiating one of the largest antitrust cases in U.S. history. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the case will focus on search and search-focused advertising, rather than the company’s broader advertising business.

In addition, according to the Journal’s sources, the Department of Justice will claim that Google “maintains its status as a guardian of the Internet through an illegal network of exclusionary and converged business deals that exclude competitors.

Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen announced a briefing this morning, which will likely provide more details about the case.

It is one of the most ambitious antitrust actions ever taken against a technology company, bringing together parallel investigations by the Department of Justice and a number of state attorneys general. The Justice Department informed state attorneys general of the case in late September, according to a report in The Washington Post. More than 10 state attorneys general are expected to sign on to the case, according to the Journal, but others are likely to file separate antitrust charges.

Google has faced antitrust action before, but never on this scale. Most of the investigations ended in 2013, when the company changed its AdSense policies to resolve a Federal Trade Commission investigation without formal legal action. Google has also faced a series of fines from European Union regulators, including ?1.5 billion for its AdSense policy, ?4.3 billion for selling software on Android and ?2.4 billion for manipulating Google’s search results.

At the congressional hearing on technology antitrust in July, Google came in for significant criticism from its lawmakers, suggesting that the company may have few allies in Washington. In his keynote speech, Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) accused the company of using its privileged position as a search engine to crush its adversaries in other areas. “The problem is Google’s business model,” Cicilline said. “Our documents prove that Google has evolved from a turnstile to the rest of the web to a walled garden that increasingly keeps users inside its sites.

Then, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, defended the company’s actions as part of a broader commitment to serve users. “When I run the company, I’m really focused on giving users what they want,” said Pichai. “We behave with the highest standard.

Source: TheVerge