U.S. Department of Justice, along with eleven state Attorneys General, has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Columbia against Google for violating antitrust laws. The Attorneys General involved in the lawsuit represent Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.
The Wall Street Journal reported that all eleven of the Attorneys General are Republicans. More could join the case later. Other states are still considering their own cases related to Google’s search practices, and a large group of states is considering a case challenging Google’s power in the digital advertising market.
One of the things I found interesting from The Wall Street Journal article is that the Justice Department’s case doesn’t focus on a search-bias theory. This surprised me because all of the Attorneys General involved in the lawsuit are Republican, and many people from that party appear to feel that search engines and social media sites are biased against them. Perhaps that argument isn’t stong enough to bring to court.
The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Google has unlawfully maintained monopolies in search and search advertising by:
- Entering into exclusivity agreements that forbid preinstallation of any competing search engines
- Entering into tying and other arrangements that force preinstallation of its search applications in prime locations on mobile devices and make them undeletable, regardless of consumer preference
- Entering into long-term agreements with Apple that require Google to be the default – and de-facto exclusive – general search engine on Apple’s popular Safari browser and other Apple search tools
- Generally using monopoly profits to buy preferential treatment for its search engine on devices, web browsers, and other search access points, creating a continuous and self-reinforcing cycle of monopolization.
Google responded with a blog post on The Keyword. Part of that post states: Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.
Google also wrote: This isn’t the dial-up 1990s, when changing services was slow and difficult, and often required you to buy and install software with a CD-ROM. Today, you can easily download your choice of apps or change your default settings in a matter of seconds – faster than you can walk to another aisle in the grocery store.