The Trump administration is suing Google for allegedly stifling competition to maintain dominance in the marketplace for online search and search advertising. This antitrust case will be the largest against a tech company in more than two decades.
In what seems like a class action, a consortium of 11 states are involved in the case: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas.
The complaints allege that the big tech harmed competitors and prevented rivals from gaining their desired audience. They accused Google for paying billions of dollars yearly to device manufacturers like Apple, LG, Motorola and Samsung as well as Opera and Mozilla to be their default search engine, making the big tech “control search distribution channels accounting for roughly 80% of the general search queries in the United States.”
In defence, Google SVP Global Affairs and Chief Legal Kent Walker said in a blog post that Google is doing what it can to retain its business as leaders in tech with their credibility. The maintained that people choose to use the search engine because they are trusted and not because they have no other option. “Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to, not because they choose to, not because they are forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
The post argued further to allege that the complaint relied on dubious antitrust arguments that would not aid the consumers in any way. “To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use,” Walker said.
Google said it’s doing no less than what other businesses are doing to remain in business by promoting their products. It’s more like a cereal company paying a supermarket to stock its products at the end of the row for visibility. Brands do a lot to create awareness and to remain users’ favourite. The company said it doesn’t compel users; they only do everything within their means to promote their products.
There had been a year long antitrust probe which comes before an election in which tech platforms are under probe for their impact on democracy and small enterprise. A congressional report had alleged that Google and big techs enjoy monopoly and dominance in anticompetitive ways. Amazon for instance, is alleged to mistreat third-party sellers and that Apple’s app stores and policies are anti-competitive. Facebook was not left out in the saga. It was accused of eliminating future rivals through targeted acquisitions. Facebook acquired Instagram, WhatsApp and sought to do the same with Snapchat.
Many states have been conducting a separate antitrust inquiry into Google and other big techs in the last one year. Many of them on Tuesday said they intend to wrap up the probe in the coming weeks and could possibly merge it with the federal case.
This case could result in a strain on Google’s advertising business which brought in $134.8b in revenue. This figure accounts for 84% of Google’s total business.