The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google alleging the company of abusing its dominance over smaller rivals by operating like an illegal monopoly. The action represents the federal government’s most significant legal action in more than two decades to confront a technology giant’s power. The lawsuit claims Goggle has abused its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers. After years of hemming and hawing over the matter, the US government has now formally described google as an illegal monopolist. Just being a monopolist isn’t illegal. And that’s been good for Google, since it dominates roughly 90% of the market for internet searches. But abuse of monopoly can easily land a company in trouble. The Justice Department went there, calling Google a “monopoly gatekeeper for the internet” that has used “anticompetitive tactics” to maintain and extend monopolies in both search and search ads. The lawsuit alleges that Google stifled competition and innovation from smaller upstarts and harmed consumers by reducing the quality and variety of search options, and that the company also uses its monopoly money to lock in its monopoly position to lock in its favorable position on smartphones and in browsers. “A significant number of entities- spanning major public corporations, small business and entrepreneurs- depend on Google for traffic, and no alternate search engine serves as a substitute. The lawmakers also accused Apple, Amazon and Facebook of abusing their market power. They called for more aggressive enforcement of antitrust laws, and for Congress to consider strengthening them.
The scrutiny reflects how Google has become a dominant player in communications, commerce and media over the last two decades. That business is lucrative: Last year, Google brought in $34.3 billion in search revenue in the United States, according to the research firm eMarketer.
The lawsuit is the result of an investigation that has stretched for more than a year. Prosecutors have spoken with Google’ rivals in technology and media, collecting information and documents that could to used to build a case. A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing the “narrow concerns” identified by the Commission and will assess its next steps. The Indian watchdog’s order is the latest antitrust setback for Google. Last year, the European Commission imposed a record 2.4 billion euro fine on the company for favoring its shopping service and demoting rival offering. Google has appealed against the order.
In India, the Commission found, that Google through its search design had placed its commercial flight search function at a prominent position on the search results page to the disadvantages of businesses trying to gain market access.
The Indian watchdog also expressed disappointment with Google for saying it was not possible to collate all the revenue data in the time allotted. Google will need to deposit the fine within 60 days, the Commission said. The order was passed by a majority of 4-2 with two members dissenting.