News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch has involved the U.S. government in his war against Google with an anti-trust lawsuit, and he just might win.
Murdoch has fought against Google for more than a decade, accusing the company of news “theft” as far back as 2009. He now appears to be successfully levying an anti-trust lawsuit against the company for its dominance in online advertising.
“Publishers, particularly quality publishers that invest in content, haven’t believed the digital advertising ecosystem works for them for a long time,” David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance which represents News Corp, told the Irish Times. “The whole system is designed so you can’t follow the money. All we know is we’re not getting enough of it.”
According to the Irish Times:
The justice department, led by Attorney General William Barr, is preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against the [Google], according to a person familiar with the matter. News Corp representatives have met privately with the justice department about the investigation.
Last week, a trade group for news organizations that is chaired by a senior News Corp executive published a research paper outlining how Google has leveraged its dominance to take publishers’ content and drive traffic without compensating them under copyright laws. The trade group, the News Media Alliance, sent the report to the justice department.
Murdoch’s side reportedly argued that Google controls roughly 90% of advertising revenue on the internet, and that this is a problem for publishers.
“The publishers are trying to monetize their content and they only have one choice in how to do that, which is Google. That’s a problem,” Yale University economist Fiona Scott Morton told the Irish Times. (RELATED: ANALYSIS: DOJ Investigators Involved In Antitrust Probe Don’t Appear To Be Scrutinizing Claims Of Bias In Google’s Search)
President Donald Trump himself has been highly critical of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter in recent weeks. He signed an executive order in June calling on Congress to change Section 230 — the law governing how internet platforms operate — to remove companies’ civil immunity if they moderate their platforms in a politically biased manner.
“Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see,” the order read.
“Immunity should not extend beyond its text and purpose to provide protection for those who purport to provide users a forum for free and open speech, but in reality use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints,” it continued.
In an exclusive interview, Trump told the Daily Caller that antitrust initiatives could be a central theme of his second term if he wins reelection in November.
“It’s really unfair what’s going on with the conservative voice,” he said during an Oval Office interview. “You’d solve the entire problem of the various, you know, monopolists, if you ever voided Section 230.”
The Daily Caller asked the president why he wants to roll back Section 230 instead of modernizing “all of the antitrust laws for the internet?”
“You know, that could happen,” he continued. “That could happen.” (EXCLUSIVE: ‘A Much Dirtier Game’ — Trump Wants To ‘Get Involved’ In Making Advertiser Boycotts Illegal)
Trump conceded that “you’ve got a lot of forces against, with antitrust. People own stock in the companies, millions of people own stock in companies.”
Trump and Barr also have allies on the state level, with several state attorneys general leading their own investigations into whether Google is in violation of antitrust law, according to CNBC.
Fifty attorneys general have been investigating the company and are expected to file a lawsuit targeting a breakup of Google’s advertising program, the outlet reported.