This morning, the Department of Justice, supported by 11 state attorneys general, sued Google for violating antitrust laws.
“Today, millions of Americans rely on the Internet and online platforms…Competition in this industry is vitally important, which is why today’s challenge against Google…for violating antitrust laws is a monumental case both for the DOJ and for the American people.” — AG Barr pic.twitter.com/CG8UKXDtZo
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) October 20, 2020
The complaint aims to stop Google from monopolizing the search and search advertising markets and to remedy competitive harms. The suit announcement notes the company is one of the wealthiest on the planet, with a market value of $1 trillion, and has accounted for nearly 90 percent of all U.S. search queries for years through the use of anti-competitive tactics.
“Today, millions of Americans rely on the internet and online platforms for their daily lives,” Attorney General William Barr said. “Competition in this industry is vitally important, which is why today’s challenge against Google— the gatekeeper of the internet— for violating antitrust laws is a monumental case both for the Department of Justice and for the American people.”
Standing up to the Tech Giants
Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, described the lawsuit as “deeply flawed” and said people use the search engine because they choose to, not because they are forced or don’t have any alternatives. He also explained that Google doesn’t just compete with search engines, but with sites like Twitter, Amazon and Expedia as well.
“The lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers,” he said. “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.”
The lawsuit comes just weeks after a 449-page report by House Democrats, which investigated the competition in digital markets. In addition to Google, the report made an argument for stripping Apple, Amazon and Facebook of their dominant powers. It notes that Google collects data from its users and competitors to reinforce its dominance.
A historic move
“Just a decade into the future, 30 percent of the world’s gross economic output may lie with these firms, and just a handful of others,” the report said in reference to the investigated companies. Looking at Google, the report explains that a significant number of major public corporations, small businesses and entrepreneurs depend on the search engine “for traffic, and no alternate search engine serves as a substitute.”
“The Department is again enforcing the Sherman Act to restore the role of competition and open the door to the next wave of innovation,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said.
The DOJ also filed antitrust suits against AT&T and Microsoft in the ‘70 and ‘90s, respectively. Today’s action is the first major move by the government against Big Tech.