The Justice Department of the US government has sued Alphabet owned Google accusing the company of illegally abusing its dominance in internet search and harming competitors and consumers. Here is everything you need to know about this lawsuit:
What is the US government’s stand?
The government has accused Google of illegally protecting its dominant position in the market for search and search advertising through deals signed with big companies like Apple and other smartphone makers, all of who have Google as the default search engine on their devices. This makes Google dominant in the search market, a “monopoly gatekeeper for the internet” as described by the Justice Department. Other than that, digital advertising on Google is also under the scanner which includes search, web display and video ads. The lawsuit alleges that Google’s behaviour in the digital advertising space is that of a monopolist, “exclusionary” as it stifles smaller competitors and inhibits innovation resulting in a huge disservice to the consumers.
What is Google’s stand?
Google has consistently maintained that their services are useful for the consumers and free for everyone to use. It has also emphasised that all the deals it has made are legal and help the companies.
Is this politically motivated?
While questioning a single company holding so much power is more of a policy concern that has been repeatedly raised by senators like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Occasio Cortez, this lawsuit has immediate implications as it comes just two weeks before the US 2020 presidential elections. Attorney General William Barr is said to have moved rather quickly on this lawsuit as taking on the Big Tech giants was one of Trump’s election promises.
Has such a lawsuit ever happened before?
A similar case happened 22 years ago in 1998 against Microsoft as the company was accused of bundling all products around Windows. At the time of the Microsoft lawsuit, Google was just a startup and had claimed that Microsoft’s practices were “anti-competitive”.
What will happen next?
The US government and Google could reach a settlement but if that doesn’t happen, both of them are headed to the court. The outcome of the case will certainly take years to come but the lawsuit is the first significant step taken against Google.