The United States Justice Department has filed a landmark antitrust case against Google, which accuses the tech giant of anticompetitive conduct.
The allegations focus on Google’s search business (including search advertising), with claims Google has “monopolised” the space.
“Google pays billions of dollars each year to distributors—including popular-device manufacturers such as Apple, LG, Motorola, and Samsung; major U.S. wireless carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon; and browser developers such as Mozilla, Opera, and UCWeb—to secure default status for its general search engine and, in many cases, to specifically prohibit Google’s counterparties from dealing with Google’s competitors,” the suit claims.
“Some of these agreements also require distributors to take a bundle of Google apps, including its search apps, and feature them on devices in prime positions where consumers are most likely to start their internet searches.”
Google has since hit back at the allegations, claiming its users autonomously choose to use its Search service.
“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,” said Google’s SVP of global affairs Kent Walker.
“This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.”
Regarding the DOJ’s claims that Google pays to secure default status on devices, Walker compared Google pointed out that while it does feature in the Safari browser, so does its competitors Yahoo! and Bing.
Walker also pointed out that Google does not come preloaded on Windows devices, while on Android, the “promotional agreements” are designed to help Google distribute Android for free.
“We’re confident that a court will conclude that this suit doesn’t square with either the facts or the law,” Walker concluded.
The DOJ’s fresh claims against Google follows continued government scrutiny of the tech giant in Australia.
The company is currently protesting the proposed News Media Bargaining Code, which will force both Google and Facebook to pay media companies for news.
It follows on from the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry.
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