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  • People wait in line in front of the Google booth in a Big Data expo in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China. May 28, 2018.

    People wait in line in front of the Google booth in a Big Data expo in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China. May 28, 2018. | Photo: EFE/EPA/Alexsander Plavevski

Published 20 October 2020
Opinion

The lawsuit brought forth by U.S. Attorney General William Barr and 11 Republican state attorney generals accuses the multinational tech company of abusing its position to dominate search and search advertising. 

The U.S. Justice Department brought a lawsuit against Google Tuesday, claiming it is a "monopoly gatekeeper for the Internet" that has used "pernicious" anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies.

The long-awaited case filed in Washington, D.C., is the most significant case against a major U.S. tech company in decades, alleging that Google unfairly locks out competition through a series of business agreements.

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In a statement, Google said the lawsuit is "deeply flawed," claiming that people "use Google because they choose to—not because they're forced to or because they can't find alternatives." 

Google continued by saying, "This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. On 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.”

Although U.S. President Donald Trump criticized European regulators for fining Google $9 billion for anti-competitive practices in 2018, Trump and conservatives have since reversed their positions, joining progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in attacking the dominance of tech firms like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. 

Barr pushed the Justice Department to file the lawsuit quickly, in time for the November 3rd presidential elections, with the case coming after the release of a hard-hitting House subcommittee report denouncing big tech's "censoring of political speech, spreading fake news and 'killing' the engines of the American economy."
 
While Google critiqued Microsoft for its monopolistic practices in 1998 when the U.S. government similarly invoked the 1890 Sherman Act against the multinational, it has since deployed "the same playbook to sustain its own monopolies."
 
Google has $120 billion in cash and deep ties in Washington. The tech firm must now wait years before any decision is reached, which will likely catalyze other legal actions. Attorney generals nationwide are already investigating Google, and the Justice Department has launched a separate investigation into Google's ad-tech practices. 
 

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