The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit this morning against Google, the internet’s largest search engine. The lawsuit, which is also backed by 11 states, accuses Google of illegal monopolistic practices regarding internet search services, which Google has dominated for years.
“Two decades ago, Google became the darling of Silicon Valley as a scrappy startup with an innovative way to search the emerging internet,” the suit states. “That Google is long gone. The Google of today is a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet, and one of the wealthiest companies on the planet, with a market value of $1 trillion and annual revenue exceeding $160 billion.”
More than 80 percent of all internet searches are performed on Google.
“For many years, Google has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising—the cornerstones of its empire,” the lawsuit states.
Google’s dominance of the search engine market has led many high-ranking officials in and outside of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to question whether this is legal, let alone good for the country.
“Today’s lawsuit is the most important antitrust case in a generation,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said in a public statement. “Google and its fellow Big Tech monopolists exercise unprecedented power over the lives of ordinary Americans, controlling everything from the news we read to the security of our most personal information.”
The DOJ’s senior technology adviser, Ryan Shores, says that Google maintains its search engine dominance because it effectively shuts out competitors via exclusionary agreements.
“Google collectively pays mobile phone manufacturers, carriers, and web browsers billions of dollars each year from its monopoly search advertising revenues to be the present default search engine,” Shores said. “This is by far the most effective way for a search engine to gain users, as most people simply use this default.”
The DOJ lawsuit is not the first time Google has faced such accusations. In 2019, the European Union fined Google $1.7 billion because of Google’s anti-competitive practices.
Google responded to the DOJ lawsuit by saying, “People use Google because they choose to—not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”
Deputy Attorney General Jeffry Rosen, disagreed, saying, “If the government does not enforce the antitrust laws to enable competition, we could lose the next wave of innovation. If that happens, Americans may never get to see the next Google.”
U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr said the lawsuit is necessary because “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,” Barr said. “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.”