The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google, alleging that the company has been illegally abusing its position of power online in order to create a monopoly on searching and advertising.
The lawsuit, filed only this morning, states that “Google has willfully maintained and abused its monopoly power in general search services through anticompetitive and exclusionary distribution agreements.”
Consequently, the lawsuit seeks to “restrain Google LLC (Google) from unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising in the United States through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices, and to remedy the effects of this conduct.”
It additionally discloses that Google’s online dominance has resulted in “a market value of $1 trillion and annual revenue exceeding $160 billion” and that it has used “anticompetitive tactics” to extend “the cornerstones of its empire.”
The case is a result of over a year long investigation, and is an attempt to challenge Google’s online supremacy which has been affected by abusing its position in violation in Section 2 of the Sherman Act. The DOJ has been joined by 11 state attorneys general as plaintiffs in the case.
The DOJ raises numerous complaints against Google, mentioning that the tech giant has “exclusionary agreements, including tying arrangements” in order to “lock up distribution channels and block rivals.”
The department also claims that Google spends billions each year ensuring that it remains the default internet browser and search engine. Companies it pays for this include “Apple, LG, Motorola, and Samsung… AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon…Mozilla, Opera, and UCWeb.”
As a result of this, the case states that Google “effectively owns or controls search distribution channels accounting for roughly 80 percent of the general search queries in the United States… for nearly 90 percent of all general-search-engine queries in the United States, and almost 95 percent of queries on mobile devices.”
Furthermore, “Google monetizes this search monopoly,” the revenues of which it “‘shares’ with distributors in return for commitments to favor Google’s search engine.”
The DOJ makes the argument that “[t]hese enormous payments create a strong disincentive for distributors to switch” and also “raise barriers to entry for rivals.”
Google’s competitors are moreover denied “vital distribution, scale, and product recognition—ensuring they have no real chance to challenge Google.”
According to the DOJ’s claims, Google employs “distribution agreements to lock up scale [of data] for itself and deny it to others” which thus “unlawfully maintains its monopolies.”
The tech company’s practices are termed “anticompetitive” according to the ruling of 2001 antitrust case, United States v. Microsoft, which found that “anticompetitive agreements by a high-tech monopolist shutting off effective distribution channels for rivals, such as by requiring preset default status (as Google does) and making software undeletable (as Google also does), were exclusionary and unlawful under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.”
The DOJ’s papers report how Google employees received specific instruction after United States v. Microsoft to avoid words which could land them in trouble in any future antitrust case.
They were warned that “Words matter. Especially in antitrust law” and thus told to “avoid observing that Google has ‘market power’ in any market.”
In a statement this morning, Attorney General William Barr said: “This is a monumental case for the Department of Justice and, more importantly, for the American consumer.”
Continuing, Barr stated that the DOJ had “convincing evidence that Google no longer competes only on the merits but instead uses its monopoly power – and billions in monopoly profits – to lock up key pathways to search on mobile phones, browsers, and next generation devices, depriving rivals of distribution and scale.”
On top of the harm which Google’s actions cause to “users, advertisers, and small businesses,” Barr also noted that the DOJ also had wider concerns about “online platforms” regarding “online child exploitation, public safety, and censorship.” These, however, would not be covered in the lawsuit filed today as they are being dealt with separately.
Google has faced growing criticism in the wake of its censorship of conservative websites and its manipulation of search results. It has been exposed in its attempts to alter the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, by seeking to suppress information.
Project Veritas, which has provided much evidence of Big Tech censorship, released a video yesterday in which a Google employee described the company’s leftist leanings as akin to “playing selective God.”