The US Department of Justice has officially filed antitrust charges against Google, accusing the search giant of monopolistic practices regarding its search business.
DOJ officials have been investigating Google for some time, with Attorney General William Barr pushing for a lawsuit to be filed. Google is widely seen as abusing its position as the dominant search engine, making it difficult for rivals to compete. In addition, Google’s dominance in search and search advertising effectively make it the gatekeeper of the internet, giving it unrivaled power over the success or failure of internet-based businesses.
“Today, millions of Americans rely on the Internet and online platforms for their daily lives. Competition in this industry is vitally important, which is why today’s challenge against Google — the gatekeeper of the Internet — for violating antitrust laws is a monumental case both for the Department of Justice and for the American people,” said Attorney General William Barr. “Since my confirmation, I have prioritized the Department’s review of online market-leading platforms to ensure that our technology industries remain competitive. This lawsuit strikes at the heart of Google’s grip over the internet for millions of American consumers, advertisers, small businesses and entrepreneurs beholden to an unlawful monopolist.”
In particular, Google is accused of engaging in anticompetitive behavior by restricting competition in searches in favor of protecting its own interests. This has led to a reduction in the quality of search results, as well as higher costs to advertisers. The DOJ believes a vibrant search industry would benefit both of these issues.
Attorney Generals from Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas have joined the lawsuit.
It remains to be seen if the government will be able to make its case. In recent weeks, there appeared to be disagreement about how to proceed, with long-time DOJ lawyers feeling more time was needed to adequately prepare a strong case. AG Barr pushed for the case to move forward, despite the concerns that prematurely doing so could give Google a significant advantage at trial.