- Google will go to trial on Tuesday to fight against allegations that it possesses a monopoly in the search and search advertising space, according to a Department of Justice(DOJ) announcement.
- The company’s parent, Alphabet Inc., has a market cap of $1.7 trillion, with $224 billion in annual ad sales that support 182,000 employees while controlling 90% of the internet search market, according to The Associated Press.
- “Competition and innovation are as American as it gets, and Google has done everything it can to stifle both for decades now,” Mike Davis, founder and president of the Internet Accountability Project, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “If Google is found to be in violation of antitrust laws, the free market and all its creativity will be allowed to flourish once again.”
Google is set to go to trial Tuesday as the Department of Justice (DOJ) targets the company with allegations that it violated antitrust law, which could affect Big Tech’s dominance and lead to a breakup of the tech giant.
The civil antitrust lawsuit against Google was filed in October 2020 using the Sherman Act and claims that the company used unlawful practices to maintain a monopoly in the search and search advertising markets, according to a DOJ announcement. A number of top executives will likely testify in the ten-week trial before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, with Obama-appointed Judge Amit Mehta presiding over the outcome that could culminate in a complete partition of the company, according to the Associated Press. (RELATED: ‘Blatant Targeting’: European Law Threatens Americans’ Free Speech Online, Experts Warn)
“Today, millions of Americans rely on the Internet and online platforms for their daily lives,” Bill Barr, former attorney general, said in the 2020 announcement. “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.”
The suit argues that Google engaged in specific actions to maintain a market monopoly, including entering into exclusivity agreements that forbid the preinstallation of other competing search engines, making agreements putting its service in prime locations on mobile devices and being undeletable and entering into an agreement with Apple to make Google the default search engine on its Safari browser, according to the DOJ announcement.
The biggest monopoly trial in 25 years.
‘U.S. et al. v. Google’ kicks off tomorrow.
🔎 The US government challenges Google over its search dominance, notably its deals with Apple making Google the default search on iPhones.$GOOG holds ~91% of the global search market. pic.twitter.com/rXFtkDXsuc
— App Economy Insights (@EconomyApp) September 11, 2023
If Mehta issues a ruling saying that Google was in violation of antitrust law, another trial will take place to determine the actions that will be taken to address the company’s monopoly, according to the AP. The company’s parent, Alphabet Inc., has a market cap of $1.7 trillion, with $224 billion in annual ad sales that support 182,000 employees while controlling 90% of the internet search market.
Possible outcomes for Google, if the company is found guilty, are that it could be forced to separate its business or make way for wider options for consumers with competing search engines, which could incentivize other Big Tech companies to avoid practices that could lead to litigation from the DOJ, according to Investopedia. Another outcome could be the end of contracts with smartphone companies like Apple and Samsung that give the search engine preferential treatment, limiting Big Tech’s ability to work cohesively with each other to ensure market dominance.
“Competition and innovation are as American as it gets, and Google has done everything it can to stifle both for decades now,” Mike Davis, founder and president of the Internet Accountability Project (IAP), told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “If Google is found to be in violation of antitrust laws, the free market and all its creativity will be allowed to flourish once again. Google would be held accountable under federal antitrust law for the first time in the company’s history, a major moment in the fight against Big Tech.”
Google is the target of another DOJ antitrust lawsuit announced in January, aimed at the company’s alleged monopoly on multiple digital advertising technology products and signed by numerous state attorney generals, according to an announcement from the DOJ. The DOJ argues that Google’s dominance over the online advertising space prohibits competition and ultimately raises advertising costs.
The suit mimics a similar DOJ antitrust suit against Microsoft in 1998 that ultimately helped Google rise, according to the AP. Regulators pointed to Microsoft bundling its Windows operating system with its Explorer web browser, which culminated in regulators only placing restrictions on the type of bundling that the tech company was engaged in after reversing a decision to break up the company.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), another regulator, sued Amazon in June for allegedly tricking users into signing up for the site’s premium Prime subscription and then making it hard to cancel.
Major tech company Meta was also sued by the FTC due to claims that it controlled a monopoly as a result of its acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 in December 2020, with 48 state attorney generals also filing a suit, according to NPR.
“Big Tech’s strategy likely doesn’t change, win or lose,” Davis told the DCNF. “For decades, the oligarchs running Big Tech have spent tens of millions of dollars to lobby congressmen and senators to affect legislative outcomes that benefit their deep pockets. Should Google prevail, Congress should expect to hear from IAP and other conservative organizations to push for legislation to rein in all Big Tech platforms before it is too late. But for the sake of the free market, freedom online, and technology at large, we should all be hoping for a DOJ win against Google.”
Google and the DOJ did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the DCNF.
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