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The US government sues Google in antitrust case

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 • Tamil Comments

In one of the largest antitrust cases in decades, the United States government sued Google on Tuesday, accusing the tech company of using anticompetitive tactics to preserve its search and search advertising monopoly.

The lawsuit is considered to be the most significant US legal challenge to a company's dominance in the tech sector in over two decades, since the government sued Microsoft Corp for anti-competitive practices in 1998. Consumer advocates have accused the tech company of abusing its dominance in online search using tactics like paying phone companies such as Apple, LG, and AT&T to make Google the default search engine on their devices, in an attempt to shut out potential rivals. In response to the complaint by the Department of Justice, Google said, "Like countless other businesses, we pay to promote our services, just like a cereal brand might pay a supermarket to stock its products at the end of a row or on a shelf at eye level."

Google dominates online search in the US, accounting for about 90 percent of general search queries and 95% of searches on mobile. "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 Google of today is a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet," the lawsuit stated. The federal government's complaint against Alphabet Inc's was joined by eleven other states, including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas. "Absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anticompetitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation," the suit against Google read.

The government added in its complaint, "Ultimately it is consumers and advertisers that suffer from less choice, less innovation and less competitive advertising prices. So we are asking the court to break Google's grip on search distribution so the competition and innovation can take hold. Calling the suit "deeply flawed," Google mentioned in its statement, "People use Google because they choose to – not because they're forced to or because they can't find alternatives. This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. 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."

While the Democrats have argued for years that the US needs new laws to break up big tech companies, the Republicans have attacked Google for allegedly stifling conservative voices on their platforms. The Justice Department is conducting an investigation into Google's ad-tech practices but the case is expected to take several years before finally coming to a settlement.

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