US slaps Google with antitrust suit, eyes possible break-up


Washington (AFP): The US government sued Google on Tuesday (Oct 20), accusing the Silicon Valley titan of maintaining an "illegal monopoly" in online search and advertising, in the country's biggest antitrust case in decades, opening up the door to a potential breakup of the company.

The politically charged case, which could take years to play out, opens up a new battle between the US government and Big Tech with potentially major implications for the sector.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said the case filed with 11 states takes aim at Google's dominance of the online ecosystem.

"Google is the gateway to the internet," Rosen told reporters, citing the company's billions in payments to device makers to remain the primary search engine.

"It has maintained its monopoly through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition."

The lawsuit filed in Washington contends Google's actions shut out competitors and proposes that the court consider a range of remedies including a possible breakup, offering few specifics.

The filing calls for the court to "enjoin Google" from anticompetitive practices and consider "structural relief as needed to cure any anticompetitive harm," which would mean structural changes to the tech titan.

Asked about how officials would seek to break up Google, Rosen deferred, saying,"the litigation will have to proceed a little further before we would want to set out specifics."

Google called the lawsuit "deeply flawed."

"People use Google because they choose to -- not because they're forced to or because they can't find alternatives."

The move comes after months of investigations by US federal and state antitrust enforcers seeking to check the power of the massive technology firm and parallel probes into other titans such as Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

Progressives have claimed the huge firms have stifled competition and worsened economic inequality. A recent House of Representatives report suggested Google and others should be broken up to preserve competition. Conservatives have accused the internet giants of political bias, although evidence has been scant.

More to come?

Rosen said the Google case may not be the final one as part of its review of Big tech platforms.

"We plan to continue our review of competitive practices by leading online platforms," he said.

A longtime Big Tech critic, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, said the case would be "the most important antitrust suit in a generation," and welcomed the Justice Department move.

The main unit of holding firm Alphabet, Google operates the dominant search engine used in most of the world and a variety of related services such as maps, email, advertising and shopping. It also operates the Android mobile operating system used on the majority of smartphones worldwide.

Google has been hit with big fines in the European Union for unfair competition, and has challenged those cases. The company has consistently denied claims of monopoly abuse.

Michael Carrier, a Rutgers University law professor specializing in antitrust issues, said the case could seek to force Google to remove some of its software from Android phones, and in that sense would be similar to the Microsoft case of the 1990s where customers were forced to use proprietary programs.

But Carrier said the filing just two weeks before the election "raises the possibility that political concerns are playing a role here." - AFP

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

40% readers found this article insightful

Next In World

WTI crude futures settle higher
Spotlight: U.S. sets new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations for 15th consecutive day
Moldova's COVID-19 cases surpass 100,000
Roundup: Iran to import over 42 mln doses of vaccines as total COVID-19 cases near 900,000
Roundup: U.S. weekly jobless claims rise for second straight week amid surging COVID-19 cases
Biden urged to extend U.S.-Russia arms treaty for full 5 years without conditions
France preparing to levy "GAFA tax" for 2020
State Department tells staff: transition to Biden administration has begun
UM consumer sentiment index falls in November
France new COVID-19 cases surge, deaths also mount

Stories You'll Enjoy