If you’ve been following the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) into Google, you know it had been just a matter of time before the investigation would turn into litigation. Last Tuesday, the other shoe dropped, and the Trump Administration sued Google in what is considered a landmark antitrust lawsuit. This comes after a year-long probe into the search giant’s alleged anti-competitive practices.
The last time a tech company faced such enormous allegations of antitrust behavior was in 1998, and the company in question was Microsoft. That lawsuit finally went into effect in 2001 as a settlement, but many people believe it changed the technology industry and could even be the reason for Google’s unparalleled success over the past two decades. One of NPR’s latest podcasts, hosted by Tonya Mosley, is a deepdive comparison between the Microsoft antitrust suit of the late 90s and today’s Google lawsuit.
You can read the full 64-page lawsuit against Google to better understand the finer details of this complicated case. The suit is signed and supported by 11 states represented by Republican attorney generals from Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, South Carolina and Montana. The suit also cites the Sherman Antitrust Act that specifically outlaws the monopoly of any commerce in the U.S. For a quick overview of the DoJ’s allegations and Google’s responses, check out this Search Engine Journal article by Matt Southern.
If you’ve followed this story, the allegations against Google are nothing you haven’t heard before. The suit tackles all of Google’s practices that prevent its counterparts from competing in the Search space. You can expect to hear a lot more about Google’s supposed stranglehold over device manufacturers and browser developers – it’s believed Google pays millions of dollars to the likes of Apple, Samsung, LG and Motorola, as well as to Opera and Mozilla. And the executives at companies directly impacted by Google’s tactics are starting to show their support for the DoJ’s legal action.
DuckDuckGo chief executive Gabriel Weinberg took to Twitter to show his support for the lawsuit. Weinberg tweeted:
“We’re pleased the DoJ has taken this key step in holding Google accountable for the ways it has blocked competition, locked people into using its products and achieved a market position so dominant they refuse to even talk about it out loud.”
Yelp, a company that has made no secret of its disdain for Google’s alleged illegal tactics, has offered its support of the DoJ as well. In a statement, Yelp said:
“By systematically reducing the quality of its search results in order to entrench and extend its search and search advertising monopolies, Google is directly harming consumers. Yelp applauds the work of the DoJ and encourages swift action by state attorney generals who are conducting parallel investigations into other aspects of Google’s business.”
The timing of this lawsuit is interesting, too, with the U.S. presidential election set for Nov. 3. In the event that President Donald Trump is not re-elected, there will be a major shift in the personnel at DoJ and, inevitably, if the department undergoes a shift in staffing, it will impact this case.
So while this story is a juicy one and the outcome of the lawsuit will have a global impact, we shouldn’t expect any updates until after election day. Even then, we should measure our expectations as this debacle is years in the making and will take just as long (if not longer) to conclude.
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