The US Justice Department (DoJ) and 11 states filed an antitrust suit on Tuesday against Alphabet's Google for allegedly violating the law because of the way it treated rivals in its internet search and advertising business, seeking to disadvantage them to maintain the dominant position of its own search engine and thus sell more ads. Currently, the technology giant controls nearly 80 percent of internet searches in the US. “Two decades ago, Google became the darling of Silicon Valley as a scrappy startup with an innovative way to search the emerging internet. That Google is long gone,” the lawsuit points out.
In the lawsuit, the court is asked to prohibit Google's monopolistic practices and to consider "the structural relief necessary to cure any damage" to its competitors. Google described the lawsuit as "deeply flawed." “People use Google because they choose to – not because they are forced to or because they cannot find alternatives,” the company said in its public policy Twitter account.
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. We will have a full statement this morning.— Google Public Policy (@googlepubpolicy) October 20, 2020
According to Reuters, the filing of the lawsuit could be seen as a political gesture, as it fulfills a promise made by Donald Trump to hold certain companies accountable for allegedly stifling conservative voices. “The suit marks a stunning reversal for Silicon Valley which has largely avoided clashes with Washington even as European regulators have levied huge fines against Google and others,” notes The Guardian.
Outside the US, regulators have fined Google more than US$9 billion for anti-competitive practices. However, regulators in the EU are developing new rules to guarantee a level playing field for competitors. "Just as its historic privacy law became a global model, the new EU regulations could become a model for governments around the world seeking to curb Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook," stated Reuters.
The lawsuit comes more than a year after DoJ and the Federal Trade Commission began antitrust investigations against four major technology companies: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Groups of Attorney Generals also opened investigations against Facebook and Google.