Dept. of Justice Sues Google for Unfair Business Practices

The Department of Justice is taking search engine giant Google to court for using its powerful position in Big Tech to illicitly shut out competitors.

The suit was filed on Tuesday and was backed by the Republican Attorneys General of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.

The DOJ alleges that Google has used its outsized position as the world’s biggest search engine to shut out competitors by convincing every cell phone provider and maker to make Google their default search engine.

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This makes it impossible for competitors to get into the market, the DOJ says, and gives Google near monopoly power.

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Google is also accused of using the billions it makes in adds to pay off the cell providers to keep Google as their default search engine, the DOJ said. This amounts to an unfair business practice, the DOJ says.

The lawsuit alleges:

  • Google dominates the search engine space, controlling 80 percent of all US searches and 94 percent of mobile searches last year alone
  • It monetizes the dominance through text ads and shopping ads at the top of search engine results
  • Google then uses the $40billion it makes in ad revenue every year to enter into lucrative ‘agreements’ with others to make Google the default search engine on devices
  • It also specifies in some of these deals that no other search engine can be installed
  • Among the deals is one with Apple that makes Google the default on iPhone Safari browsers and Siri
  • The deal is so crucial to Apple, employees say losing it would be a ‘code red’

Google pays companies like Apple, LG, Motorola, Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Mozilla, Opera and UCWeb “billions” to make sure it is the default search engine on smartphones, TVs and other devices that the companies produce.

In a Tuesday announcement, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said, “Today, millions of Americans rely on the Internet and online platforms for their daily lives. ”

“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. ”

“Since my confirmation, I have prioritized the Department’s review of online market-leading platforms to ensure that our technology industries remain competitive.”

“This lawsuit strikes at the heart of Google’s grip over the internet for millions of American consumers, advertisers, small businesses and entrepreneurs beholden to an unlawful monopolist.”

Deputy AG Jeffrey Rosen added: “As with its historic antitrust actions against AT&T in 1974 and Microsoft in 1998, the Department is again enforcing the Sherman Act to restore the role of competition and open the door to the next wave of innovation—this time in vital digital markets.”

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