Google is up against the US Justice Department. The latter has filed a complaint against the online search giant for violating antitrust laws and its monopoly.
“Google is the monopoly gatekeeper to the internet for billions of users and countless advertisers worldwide. For years, Google has accounted for almost 90% of all search queries in the United States and has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in search and search advertising,” says the Justice Department.
The complaint claims that Google continues to dominate the market through exclusive deals to be the default search product. It adds that the firm uses its profits to “buy preferential treatment for its search engine on devices, web browsers, and other search access points”.
If proven, these practices will keep its competitors out of the market.
Google has responded to the legal filing. It calls the complaint “deeply flawed” and highlights the many ways people can opt to stop using Google’s products.
“People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives,” says Google.
A blast from the past
Columbia University law professor Timothy Wu found it odd that the case has similarities to the one brought against Microsoft in the 90s. It claimed that Microsoft violated antitrust law by preinstalling Internet Explorer with Windows. The practice effectively froze out other web browsers in the onset.
Yet, the bundled technology can be overtaken. Google Chrome now dominates all search engines, even if Microsoft Edge is the default PC browser.
Microsoft settled its case with the Justice Department in 2001. The courtroom battle lasted several years to arrive in a mutual agreement.
The new complaint may drag on for just as long. And this filing is different from the one raised by the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year. Google was accused of using its market power to cut online traffic to competitors.
How will it affect Google’s daily operations? Well, likely nothing. But it may change the laws on how Google can close deals to be the default browser on devices.
Google warns that the action may ultimately raise the prices of mobile devices. And it will “artificially propping up lower quality search services”.
The action will likely have little effect on Google’s main operations. If it wins, it will open up the market to more competitors in search.
We will have to wait and see how it progresses.