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Things are happening at Google! Antitrust litigation initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice and 11 states

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△Google office area image source: Associated Press

On October 20, the US Department of Justice and 11 states announced an antitrust lawsuit against Google Inc., accusing it of illegally restraining competitors in the search and search advertising market to maintain its monopoly. 

“Washington Post” pointed out that this is the largest antitrust lawsuit initiated by the US government in 20 years, and it may have a huge impact on the entire technology industry.

U.S. files antitrust lawsuit against Google

After a year-long investigation, the US federal government determined that Google had abused its technological superiority and harmed the rights of industry competitors and consumers. 

The Justice Department stated in the indictment that Google relied on special agreements and problematic business practices to ensure its leading edge in online search, thus occupying 88% of the US Internet search market and 70% of the search advertising market.

The U.S. Department of Justice stated that Google has maintained its monopoly by signing an “exclusive agreement” to prevent rivals from competing. 

For example, by paying billions of dollars to Apple, it has become the default search engine for the Safari browser in iPhones and Mac computers; forcing some mobile device manufacturers to pre-install the Google search application, and users cannot delete it.

The Associated Press published an analysis article that pointed out that it is not illegal for a company to have an industry monopoly. But what Google did wrong was to abuse its monopoly position to prevent competitors from developing, harm consumer rights, and inhibit the industry’s ability to innovate.

US Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen warned: “If the Justice Department does not file a lawsuit now, we may miss the next wave of innovation, and Americans may never see the next Google.”

In response to the US Department of Justice’s allegations, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker (Kent Walker) said: This allegation has loopholes. 

Kent Walker said that users use Google is their active choice, not forced to accept

nor because they can not find other alternatives.

The lawsuit against Google is almost a copy of the Microsoft case

The US media pointed out that this is the largest antitrust case in the United States since the

US government sued Microsoft in 1998. This lawsuit is very similar to the Microsoft lawsuit that year. 

For example, Google is accused of using restrictive and exclusive transactions to monopolize search, just as

Microsoft bundled software programs with its operating system.

Columbia University law professor Timothy Wu said the lawsuit against Google was “almost a copy of the Microsoft antitrust case”.

On May 18, 1998, the US Department of Justice, together with 19 states and the capital, Washington, District of Columbia, filed a lawsuit against Microsoft

accusing Microsoft of preventing computer manufacturers from launching browsers that compete with

Microsoft IE, and adopting improper measures to protect the monopoly of Windows operating system. .

After several years of tug of war, in 2001, Microsoft and the US Department of Justice reached a settlement. Although the US Department of Justice did not impose

financial penalties on Microsoft, it compels Microsoft to publish its sensitive technical information

prohibits Microsoft from participating in exclusive transactions that may harm competitors, and supervises Microsoft’s business practices. 

It was not until 2011 that Microsoft’s supervision was completely ended.

Google is only the beginning of a long legal battle

“USA Today” pointed out that the lawsuit against Google is only the beginning of a long legal battle. The trial process may take 12 to 18 months, and subsequent appeals may take several years. Therefore, lawsuits will not have an immediate impact on Internet users.

Spencer Weber Waller, a professor at the Loyola University Law School in Chicago, said that although

antitrust litigation takes a long time and is full of uncertainty, consumers

have a chance to get a fairer result in the end.

Professor of Economics at the Yale School of Management said that consumers may not insist on using

Google in the face of more and better choices.

The US media pointed out that the lawsuit may have an unprecedented impact on Google’s advertising business. Last year, Google’s advertising business revenue was $134.8 billion, accounting for 84% of Google’s total business. 

Other companies in the technology industry may also face similar lawsuits.

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