DOJ, 11 States File Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against Google
It’s been brewing for years, and European courts have been doing it for over a decade now, but the day has come. The US Government along with 11 states are going after Google.
The Justice Department alleges that Google, which is a division of Alphabet, paid billions of dollars to Apple, other mobile-phone manufacturers and web browser companies in order for those companies to maintain Google as their default search engine. Those payments and similar arrangements have allowed Google to maintain a lock on the web-search market, which has long been the foundation of its business. In one of the arrangements, Google made it so that its browser could not be deleted from mobile phones that came pre-loaded with the company’s Android operating software. The case was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.
Investors appeared to brush off any changes that could come from the government’s suit. Shares of Alphabet rose $22, or 1.5%, on the news on Tuesday to $1,552.
Alphabet did not immediately return a request to comment from CBS MoneyWatch for this story.
The lawsuit marks the government’s most significant act to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago. It could be an opening salvo ahead of other major government antitrust actions, given ongoing investigations of major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
The House subcommittee on antitrust released a sweeping report earlier this month that recommended overhauling federal laws to make it easier to go after the four biggest tech companies, including potentially restructuring those companies or breaking them up into their component divisions.
Lawmakers and consumer advocates have long accused Google, whose corporate parent Alphabet Inc. has a market value just over $1 trillion, of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and boost its profits. Critics contend that multibillion-dollar fines and mandated changes in Google’s practices imposed by European regulators in recent years weren’t severe enough and that structural changes are needed for Google to change its conduct.
The Justice Department won’t immediately seek to have Google broken up. But the Justice Department could eventually seek to force a change in how Alphabet operates, which could include splitting up Google’s various businesses.
You can read the government’s filed complaint in full here.