US Department of Justice

US Department of Justice files antitrust lawsuit against Google

The federal government’s lawsuit caps off a roughly year-long investigation

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The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against Google, over allegations that its search and advertising empire violated federal antitrust laws.

The federal government’s lawsuit caps off a roughly year-long investigation, which found Google wielded its digital dominance to the detriment of corporate rivals and consumers. The complaint contends that Google relied on a mix of special agreements and other problematic business practices to secure an insurmountable lead in online search, capturing the market for nearly 90 percent of all queries in the United States.

Google pays billions of dollars to other companies to maintain its place as the default search engine on various platforms, including Apple’s iPhones. The DOJ also cited Google’s requirement to load its own apps, which are not able to be deleted, onto most Android phones.

11 states are initially expected to sign onto the case, with others likely to file separate lawsuits at a later date.

In bringing its case, the DOJ did not explicitly ask a judge to break apart Google. Instead, it urged the court to consider “structural relief,” which theoretically could include a requirement that the company sell a portion of its business and cease other practices that federal regulators see as harmful and unlawful.

The DOJ alleged in its complaint.

Absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anticompetitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation. Google is now the unchallenged gateway to the internet for billions of users worldwide.

As a consequence, countless advertisers must pay a toll to Google’s search advertising and general search text advertising monopolies; American consumers are forced to accept Google’s policies, privacy practices, and use of personal data; and new companies with innovative business models cannot emerge from Google’s long shadow.

For the sake of American consumers, advertisers, and all companies now reliant on the internet economy, the time has come to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition.

Google on Tuesday flatly rejected the government’s claims as “deeply flawed.” Kent Walker, the company’s chief legal officer, defended Google’s business practices, arguing consumers nationwide still have the choice to use its rivals’ online offerings.

Walker wrote in a blog post.

Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives. 

This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.

American antitrust law is designed to promote innovation and help consumers, not tilt the playing field in favour of particular competitors or make it harder for people to get the services they want,

We’re confident that a court will conclude that this suit doesn’t square with either the facts or the law.

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