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.
Its a great shiny target, but I’m willing to bet a cup of really good coffee it goes nowhere. All Google has to do is point to all the other US monopolies the DoJ hasn’t gone after in the last dozen or so years and any judge (originalist or otherwise) will toss the case.Report
Nevertheless there is still precedent in how it went after microsoft.Report
Sure – and that slowed Microsoft down how exactly? Bill gates still makes enough money to be lumped with George Soros as the latest ultra right boogey man afterall.Report
It slowed it down insofar as its official policy shifted from “Our products are so good that we don’t *NEED* lobbyists!” to “Okay. We’ve got lobbyists now.”
Just because it didn’t stop him doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t do it out of principle or cussedness.Report
My understanding is that it slowed Microsoft down a great deal. That after they understood their behavior was constantly being put under a legal microscope they stopped the bulk of the seriously anti-consumer behavior they were doing.
And yes, they were still a massive company that made a ton of money. However you’ll notice they haven’t leveraged Windows into taking over other unrelated fields in a long time and the complaints against them are more inequality based than abuse based.Report
The last time there was a hope with bing was 1962Report
The past is another country.
The biggest surprise in the Microsoft antitrust case was that the judge decided “desktop PC operating systems” was a market. I’m eagerly waiting to see — seriously, no tongue in cheek here — the government’s arguments that search results delivered at no cost to the actual user is a “market”.Report
The search results contain ads. AM/FM radio and broadcast TV, which come free over the airwaves, is a similar market. Putting ads in people’s ears or in front of their eyeballs is a major industry, even though the people receiving the ads aren’t the ones paying anything to the broadcasters.Report
Over-the-air bandwidth is an inherently limited thing. Access to the organized results of a world wide web tree search is not. Google produced better results than AltaVista. Bing and DuckDuckGo claim to produce better results than Google. Seriously. Go ask Microsoft if their business model is users should use Bing because it’s inferior.Report
Over-the-air bandwidth is hardly even used. Outside of perhaps major cities, nobody’s FM band is saturated. Mine area, for example, only has maybe 5 or 6 stations the come in clearly, out of 100 possible slots. AM is similar except at dusk.
Of course Google might be under quite a bit of heat because they slant the information. In a recent Project Veritas video, Google engineers explain that when you search for Donald Trump, they populate the results with negative stories, and when you search for Biden, they populate the results with positive stories. They do that intentionally.Report