Morning Consult: DOJ Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google: Instant Reaction

October 20, 2020 Media

The Justice Department is accusing Alphabet Inc. unit Google of practicing anti-competitive behavior in an effort to keep its search services and search advertising business dominant, in a long-awaited lawsuit filed Tuesday in a Washington federal court. Claims include paying mobile carriers and browsers “billions of dollars each year” to maintain Google as the default search engine on their systems and making it more difficult for other search engines to be included as options on Android devices.

“Today the department’s review of competition conditions on online digital platforms has reached a milestone, but not a stopping point,” Jeffrey Rosen, the Justice Department’s deputy attorney general, told reporters.

Google said in a tweet that the federal lawsuit is “deeply flawed” and that users turn to its search engine “because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”

The lawsuit, filed exactly two weeks before the Nov. 3 presidential election, marks the harshest action the U.S. government has taken against tech’s corporate power since the antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. in 1997, and follows years of turbulence for Silicon Valley in Washington as questions about the industry’s alleged monopolization, data collection practices and content moderation policies gain steam.

Matt Stoller, director of research, American Economic Liberties Project

“When you look at this complaint, it’s basically the Microsoft complaint. They’re saying Microsoft tied Internet Explorer to its operating system, and it did it in lots of different ways, with lots of different contractual arrangements and then also integrating it into its products. This is the same thing. This is saying Google bundled its search into browsers and into phones using contractual arrangements, as well as tying it to its own products,” Stoller said.

“In the 1990s, they loved big companies. This is a different environment. Big Tech monopoly power has been in the presidential cycle in 2016; it was not in the 1990s.”