DOJ Files Huge Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

( The U.S. government officially filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Tuesday morning.

The Department of Justice accused Google in its complaint of stifling competition so that the company could maintain its power position for online search advertising and online search.

Along with the federal government, 11 states joined the lawsuit — Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Montana, Missouri and South Carolina.

The suit filed Tuesday is the largest antitrust case filed against a technology company in more than 20 years. DOJ investigators have been probing Google and its parent company Alphabet for more than a year. A recent congressional report also found that Google and other giants in the tech industry have “monopoly power” they’ve used to dominate the industry in “anti-competitive ways.”

In addition to Google, that congressional report mentions Facebook, Amazon and Apple as companies that have engaged in these practices. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Facebook for more than a year now, and that could ultimately result in separate lawsuits against them.

Google’s public policy account published a tweet following the announcement of the lawsuit, saying:

“Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives. We will have a full statement this morning.”

One of the biggest threats this lawsuit poses to Google is in regard to the advertising arm of its business. Last year, the company raked in $134.8 billion in advertising revenue, which accounted for 84% of its total revenue.

The largest anti-trust lawsuit filed against a tech company in the U.S. before this Google lawsuit was against Microsoft back in 1998. The federal government alleged in that case that Microsoft violated antitrust laws by bundling copies of its web browser, Internet Explorer, with every copy of its operating system, Windows. This was to the detriment of competitors in the web browsing market, the suit said.

Eventually, Microsoft reached a settlement agreement with the federal government after years of litigation. That settlement imposed limits on the software arm of Microsoft’s business.

Many industry analysts have said that the Microsoft settlement ultimately resulted in allowing new innovation to occur within the space, including for Google.

The lawsuit fight with Google is expected to be a tough one that will likely last for years. The former chair of the FTC, William Kovacic, commented:

“None of this will be easy. You can climb to the summit, but it’s a tough climb.”

Still, the DOJ may have a solid case on its hands. A former DOJ antitrust official, David Dinielli, explained:

“Google search is not a neutral gateway to the information available on the web. Google search is a set of algorithms designed to make Google — or Alphabet, its parent company — the most money it can possibly make.”

President Donald Trump has been a consistent critic of big tech since the 2016 presidential election. He has accused various companies of anti-trust violations and unfair censorship practices.