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DOJ, Eleven State Attorneys General File Civil Antitrust Lawsuit Against ‘Monopolist Google’

DOJ, Eleven State Attorneys General File Civil Antitrust Lawsuit Against ‘Monopolist Google’

Google has said in the past that it dominates in searches because it has “a product that billions of people choose to use each day.”

The Department of Justice and 11 state Attorneys General sued “monopolist Google.” They believe the popular search engine violated antitrust laws.

The DOJ and Attorneys General filed the lawsuit “in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms.”

The Attorneys General come from Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.

From the DOJ:

“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.”

“As with its historic antitrust actions against AT&T in 1974 and Microsoft in 1998, the Department is again enforcing the Sherman Act to restore the role of competition and open the door to the next wave of innovation—this time in vital digital markets,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen.

Congress passed the Sherman Act in 1890, named after Ohio Sen. John Sherman, “to curb concentrations of power that interfere with trade and reduce economic competition.”

The DOJ enforces two provisions:

One of the act’s main provisions outlaws all combinations that restrain trade between states or with foreign nations. This prohibition applies not only to formal cartels but also to any agreement to fix prices, limit industrial output, share markets, or exclude competition. A second key provision makes illegal all attempts to monopolize any part of trade or commerce in the United States.

The Supreme Court placed the “rule of reason” into the Sherman Act in 1920, “which specifies that not every contract or combination restraining trade is unlawful.”

This gave businesses more wiggle room: “Only ‘unreasonable’ restraint of trade through acquisitions, mergers, exclusionary tactics, and predatory pricing constitute a violation of the Sherman Act.”

Google is valued at $1 trillion. The DOJ stated that “Google has accounted for almost 90 percent of all search queries in the United States and has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in search and search advertising.”

The press statement provided the allegations against Google:

As alleged in the Complaint, Google has entered into a series of exclusionary agreements that collectively lock up the primary avenues through which users access search engines, and thus the internet, by requiring that Google be set as the preset default general search engine on billions of mobile devices and computers worldwide and, in many cases, prohibiting preinstallation of a competitor. In particular, the Complaint alleges that Google has unlawfully maintained monopolies in search and search advertising by:

  • Entering into exclusivity agreements that forbid preinstallation of any competing search service.
  • Entering into tying and other arrangements that force preinstallation of its search applications in prime locations on mobile devices and make them undeletable, regardless of consumer preference.
  • Entering into long-term agreements with Apple that require Google to be the default – and de facto exclusive – general search engine on Apple’s popular Safari browser and other Apple search tools.
  • Generally using monopoly profits to buy preferential treatment for its search engine on devices, web browsers, and other search access points, creating a continuous and self-reinforcing cycle of monopolization.

These and other anticompetitive practices harm competition and consumers, reducing the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete, and discipline Google’s behavior.

Google has said in the past that it dominates in searches because it has “a product that billions of people choose to use each day.” More from Fox Business:

The Mountain View, Calif., company, sitting on a $120 billion cash hoard, is unlikely to shrink from a legal fight. The company has argued that it faces vigorous competition across its different operations and that its products and platforms help businesses small and large reach new customers.

Google’s defense against critics of all stripes has long been rooted in the fact that its services are largely offered to consumers at little or no cost, undercutting the traditional antitrust argument around potential price harms to those who use a product.

By the way, there is competition. There’s Bing, Duck Duck Go, Yahoo, AOL, Excite, etc.

Yes, Apple has Google as the default search engine. However, in settings, you can change the default homepage to another search engine.

You do not have to use Google.

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Comments

Not sure, but I think that Duck Duck Go uses the Google search capability to a large extent. Yes, DDG keeps anyone else (but them) from knowing what you’re looking at or shopping for, but that’s as far as it goes.

My own experience with DDG shows that the results are generally not quantitatively or qualitatively “better” than Google … just different.

    caseoftheblues in reply to tiger66. | October 20, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    You are correct Duck Duck Go does use Google..
    I think it just prevents the tracking the Google does to sell info about you

Entering into tying and other arrangements that force preinstallation of its search applications in prime locations on mobile devices and make them undeletable, regardless of consumer preference.

I thought only Microsoft could get away with inflicting undeletibles on us. It’s inscribed on a stone tablet somewhere.

    rabidfox in reply to tom_swift. | October 20, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    About half of my phone’s memory is taken up with google apps that I can’t get rid of.

      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to rabidfox. | October 20, 2020 at 8:14 pm

      Ironically, Google’s own Pixel phones (along with Motorola) have the LEAST number of junk apps. My experience is, Samsung is the king of bloatware and Samsung-based annoyance-ware. I hold in my hand the last Samsung phone I will buy.

JusticeDelivered | October 20, 2020 at 4:23 pm

Google really needs to be reigned in, also Facebook and Twitter.

It is inevitable that wildly successful companies become arrogant and abusive, they are like young punks, at least until they are held accountable.

Colonel Travis | October 20, 2020 at 4:42 pm

The power of these big tech companies is clearly tyrannical. They all have to be taken down several notches.

Congress will pretend this is a big deal. But, Google will pay a $400 million fine (out of petty cash) and nothing will change.

Remember, Washington DC has a think tank dedicated to Anti-Trust legislation. And, what company is the single largest contributor to the Anti-Trust think tank? GOOGLE.

Win lose or draw that is $100 billion form Google’ bottom line. It’s CCP Masters will not be pleased

Standard Oil had ‘competition’ though that didn’t seem to work out.

Monopolistic practices are not exclusive to some mythical percentage of market share. A company could have ‘only’ 40% market share and still engage in prohibited practices.

Further a monopolistic practices can be against other companies or consumers or both.

This year has clearly brought into focus the plots, twists and elitism of an early Ludlum thriller

Of all the possible issues that they could’ve chosen to sue over — election tampering, violation of the publisher/platform divide — they chose the losingest one. Why, it’s as if they set themselves up for failure just so that they could later cover their asses and say, “we tried.”

Antitrust? This is the leftist DoJ covering for Google by bringing an ineffective legal action. The real problem with Google is censorship.

I switched to Duck Duck Go in January. It’s so much better than Google.

DOJ is failing to use its most powerful and its most pertinent tool. Under our anti-trust laws monopoly per-se constitutes conspiracy. That’s what a trust is: a conspiracy to coordinate market or other behavior.

Not all conspiracies are criminal. Everyone has a first amendment right to associate and coordinate in developing and promulgating political platforms and for engaging in peaceable electioneering activities to promote their bids for representative power.

But some conspiracies are barred by law. You can’t for instance, conspire to commit murder. Similarly for the issue at the center of our current internet-monopoly dilemma: you cannot conspire to suppress the civil rights of others, including the speech and associational rights of others.

“Constitutional rights only restrain the federal government along with (since the passage of the Civil War Amendments) state and local governments. They don’t restrain private actors.”

Exactly. That is why the Civil Rights acts were passed: to protect speech, association, and other constitutionally protected activities not just from suppression by government but also from suppression by private conspiracies, and these tools are super powerful and open ended, as they had to be to end Jim Crow.

ANY conspiracy to suppress competing speech and association is illegal. The defining of monopoly per se as conspiracy by our anti-trust laws easily fits under this heading. USE IT.

Ten years in jail for every violation under the 1964-65 Civil Rights Acts, and Google-Twitter-FB-et al are conspiring to suppress the rights to speech and association of the present electoral majority. 60 million Trump supporters times 10 years is 600,000,000 years in jail for each of the owners and employees at these monopoly companies who is involved in the suppression efforts.

That is a proper measure of the magnitude of the crime that is massively ongoing here: they are waging war on our constitutional order, trying to overthrow it and permanently usurp it. Throw them in jail FOREVER.

Can I be on the jury please? I promise that the piece of schiff google will get a fair 3 nanosecond fair shake from me.

This is just the beginning of a tidal wave. Other countries have been waiting to do the same thing for many years. And it’s not just Google. I have a feeling that there will be an industry-wide settlement to break them all up. That would be a great thing.

There could be several “Standard Oil” opportunities where the parts are worth more than the whole. Great for investors, the economy and nations wresting their self-determination away from the Masters of the Universe.

Let’s hope that AG Barr is not the guy leading this effort. We don’t need yet another case where an investigation leads to guilty beyond reasonable doubt only to be shit-canned at the end.

Lucifer Morningstar | October 21, 2020 at 8:27 am

Big deal. They did the same thing with Microsoft back in the day and what happened in the end? They were declared a “monopoly” and ordered to break up into two separate divisions. The “software division” and the “operating system division” in order to remove the perceived advantage Microsoft had with both being under one roof. But in the end all Microsoft did was pay the states that sued a paltry settlement and the breakup of Microsoft never appeared.

And the DOJ and states attorneys think they are going to be able to do anything with Google? Good luck with that. They couldn’t even break up Microsoft and now think they’re going to do the same with Google? What a joke.

Connivin Caniff | October 21, 2020 at 9:30 am

if you want some great background on this, including John D. Rockefeller hilariously running from the law – Titan, by Ron Chernow.

This lawsuit is all smoke and mirrors … an illusion, if you will, to quiet the peasantry. Google and their ChiCom pals have enough bucks to own every CONgress critter they can buy in DC and do. Ditto Fakebook, Twinker and the Enemy Media. As long as the ‘tards are happy playing with their Apple phones, texting and sharing pictures of their pets, the giants will reign supreme.

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