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US hits Google with antitrust lawsuit

By Argie Aguja Published Oct 21, 2020 3:08 am

More than a year after investigations, the US Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit against search giant Google for allegedly “unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising in the United States.”

The suit accused the $1 trillion company of breaking the Antitrust Law by cutting deals with device manufacturers to make Google the default search engine on mobile devices, a move that stifles competitors. The charge also alleges that Google took advantage of the dominance of its Android operating system to pressure device makers into preloading Google apps to smartphones. 

Alongside the DoJ, the 64-page suit is signed by 11 states: Texas, Arkansas; Florida; Georgia; Indiana; Kentucky; Louisiana; Michigan; Missouri; Montana; and South Carolina, all with Republican attorneys general.

“Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth. It has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition.” says U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. 

In filing the case, the Justice Department did not explicitly ask a judge to break Google apart. Instead, the suit urged the court to consider “structural relief” — force Google to sell a portion of its business and cease other practices that federal regulators deem harmful and unlawful. 

The case filing is not the first time that the search giant has come under antitrust scrutiny. In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission established a two-year probe into Google for allegations of biased search results. However, the US federal agency concluded that Google hadn't violated antitrust laws.

The US government said Google has nearly 90% of all general search engine queries in the United States and almost 95% of searches on mobile.

Google denied allegations that it engaged in anticompetitive behavior. "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," the company said in a statement. 

Google’s parent company is Alphabet Inc., a multinational conglomerate that owns the web search engine, Google maps, the YouTube video platform and the Android mobile operating system that powers almost nine out of every 10 smartphones shipped globally. Billions utilize its services monthly, and the company represents the vast power and influence of Big Tech in daily life.