The DOJ’s antitrust suit against Google: what you should know

Back in October 2020, the US Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against Tech giant Google for unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the markets of Search and Search advertising through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices.

In a statement regarding the suit, Attorney General William P. Barr said that his team had gathered, “convincing evidence that Google no longer competes only on the merits but instead uses its monopoly power – and billions in monopoly profits – to lock up key pathways to search on mobile phones, browsers, and next-generation devices, depriving rivals of distribution and scale.”

Many, including the journalism industry that has accused Google and other tech companies of “robbing” its revenue for years, welcomed the development. Others were more skeptical. In a blog post refuting the DOJ’s claims, Kent Walker, Google’s SVP of Global Affairs, called the lawsuit “deeply flawed”, claiming that it would do more to hurt consumers rather than help. 

Whatever camp you fall into, some critics are skeptical about the DOJ’s likelihood of winning the case, especially considering that the lawsuit is predicated on outdated regulatory frameworks that no longer apply to how digital businesses are run in the 21st century. 

Recent developments surrounding the suit have also garnered skepticism. On January 19, 2021, Makan Delrahim stepped down from his position as the DOJ’s chief antitrust enforcer, leaving the position open. The current leading candidate, Renata Hesse, doesn’t inspire much faith in people, considering the fact that she represented Google in several antitrust cases in the past. In an open letter to President Joe Biden, the American Economic Liberties Project has emphasized the importance of appointing someone without ties to the dominant corporations they will be tasked to oversee.

Unfortunately, it looks like there won’t be any more developments any time soon, with the current trial date set at September 12, 2023. In the meantime, Google has two more US antitrust lawsuits to contend with, both of which were filed following the DOJ one. The second, filed in December 2020 by a group of state attorney general, targets its advertising technology services. The third was filed by a bipartisan group of 38 states and territories targeting Google for monopolizing the industry through anticompetitive conduct and contracts.

Whatever happens, Google’s business practices will likely remain in the spotlight for the next few years.

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