The U.S. Department of Justice has finally hit out at Google. The U.S. Department of Justice and 11 states filed antitrust lawsuits against Google Inc. on Oct. 20, Reuters reported. The reason is Google’s illegal monopoly in search and search advertising. It is also the largest antitrust lawsuit in 20 years.
But Google responded that the Justice Department’s lawsuit was “seriously flawed.”
The New York Times also quoted officials from the Department of Justice as saying that this will be the largest legal action initiated by the US government on the market influence of technology giants in a generation. The scale and influence are comparable to the case of the US government suing Microsoft for a monopoly in the last century. However, Google was not to be outdone and formed a large team to counter the actions of the US government. The duration of this Google lawsuit may also be as long as the Microsoft case, as long as more than ten years.
The Justice Department official said that a federal court in Washington, DC will preside over the lawsuit. The Justice Department is expected to accuse Google of passing several “exclusive business contracts” to exclude other competitors and maintain the company’s illegal monopoly in the search business.
For example, Google has reached an agreement with several mobile phone manufacturers that use the Android system to pre-install the Google search application on these phones, thereby excluding other competitors. In addition, Google has paid billions of dollars to Apple to make Google search the default search engine for iPhones.
The Department of Justice believes that Google currently controls nearly 80% of search usage in the United States. And, because Google uses these contracts to maintain a monopoly, competition, and innovation in the search market have been harmed.
However, Google has long denied that it violated US antitrust laws. Google argued that more and more users are now turning to sites such as Amazon to search for information, and the search engine market is actually facing huge competition. In addition, Google’s services are “good news” for many small businesses.
The New York Times predicts that Google will organize a “global network” of lawyers, lobbyists, and economists to counter prosecutions by the US Department of Justice. Previously, Google has also encountered similar antitrust investigations in Europe. In 2010, the European Commission launched a formal antitrust investigation against Google, and in 2013 the two parties reached a settlement.
A Google spokesperson said in a statement: “The Justice Department’s litigation today is seriously flawed.” The spokesperson said, “People use Google because they choose to do it, not because they are forced to do so, or because they Can’t find a substitute. This morning (referring to later) we will have a more complete statement.”
In fact, the US Department of Justice launched an antitrust investigation against Google more than a year ago. The current Minister of Justice William Barr is the driving force behind all this.
In early 2019, he confirmed at a hearing that Google will be reviewed. At that time, he said: “Many people want to know how such a huge behemoth in Silicon Valley formed under the nose of antitrust enforcement.”
Later, Barr handed over the investigation to his deputy Jeffrey Rosen, who hired an assistant from a large law firm to oversee the case and other technical matters. At present, the prosecutors have investigated Google’s competitors in technology and media and collected information and documents that can be used to open a case.
In addition to Republicans, Democrats are also dissatisfied with Google’s monopoly. According to the New York Times, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has also been strongly criticizing that the power of the Internet is concentrated on a few technology giants.
Earlier this month, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee released a huge report on tech giants, accusing Google of monopolizing online searches and advertisements when users enter queries.
The report said: “Large listed companies, small businesses, and entrepreneurs all rely on Google to provide traffic. And there is no other search engine that can replace Google.” In addition to Google, companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are also “abusing” Their market power”.
The report also stated that Google controls 90% of the online search market. According to data from the web analytics company eMarketer, Google’s search revenue in the United States last year reached 34.3 billion U.S. dollars. By 2022, this number is expected to grow to 42.5 billion US dollars.
In fact, nearly 10 years ago, Google also faced strict scrutiny by the US antitrust regulator. At that time, the US Federal Trade Commission investigated whether Google was “abusing of power” in the search market. But in 2013, five members of the committee finally decided not to file a lawsuit.
Bill Baer, the former head of the Antitrust Department of the Department of Justice, commented on this lawsuit, saying: “This is the most newsworthy monopoly lawsuit filed by the government since the Microsoft case in the late 1990s. The US government believes that It’s important that a very successful technology platform engages in illegally maintaining a monopoly position, thereby harming consumers and competition.”
In July 1994, the US Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft for the first time, claiming that Microsoft had signed an exclusive and anti-competitive licensing agreement with computer manufacturers to prevent computer manufacturers from using Microsoft competitors’ operating systems. In November 2001, the US Department of Justice and Microsoft reached a settlement on the case.
The New York Times stated that the duration of the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Google may exceed Trump’s term. Previously, the government’s investigation and a lawsuit against Microsoft took more than ten years to resolve. Some experts believe that even after the Democrats come to power, they are likely to continue this lawsuit.
In recent years, Google has been subject to antitrust investigations in many markets around the world. In addition to the European Union, Reuters reported exclusively on September 30 that two people familiar with the matter pointed out that China is also preparing Google to initiate an antitrust investigation to investigate allegations that Google has used the advantages of the Android mobile operating system to hinder competition.