DOJ, 11 States Accuse Google of Antitrust Violations

As expected, the U.S. Department of Justice today accused Google of abusing its monopoly power in online search. It was joined in this effort by 11 U.S. states, though several others are plotting their own separate cases.

“This morning the Department of Justice, along with eleven states, filed a civil lawsuit against Google for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in general search services and search advertising in violation of the U.S. antitrust laws,” a statement attributed to the U.S. Attorney General reads. “This is a monumental case for the Department of Justice and, more importantly, for the American consumer.”

According to the statement, the accusation follows a 15-month investigation, during which the DOJ determined that Google no longer competes only on the merits but instead uses its monopoly power—and what it calls 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.  The end result is that no one can feasibly challenge Google’s dominance in search and search advertising.”

The conclusion? This abuse harms users, advertisers, and small businesses in the form of fewer choices, reduced quality (including on metrics like privacy), higher advertising prices, and less innovation, the DOJ notes.

Interestingly, the DOJ also cites the success of its previous case against Microsoft, after which it says that there was a “wave of innovation” that increased competition. But today, 20 years later, Google, a key benefactor of that previous case, is now the abuser, and it is resorting to the same anticompetitive tactics that had previously driven Microsoft to dominance.

“If we let Google continue its anti-competitive ways, we will lose the next wave of innovators and Americans may never get to benefit from the ‘next Google’,” the DOJ says. “The time has come to restore competition to this vital industry.”

“Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed,” a Google statement notes. “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”

You can read the full complaint here. You can also read Google’s rebuttal here.

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Conversation 12 comments

  • swiftress

    20 October, 2020 - 12:31 pm

    <p>Hey, Facebook, you're next. Also, Amazon, hi!</p>

  • ngc224

    20 October, 2020 - 12:37 pm

    <p>About time, but unfortunately Google will be able to kick the can down the road for the next twenty years.</p><p><br></p>

  • ebraiter

    20 October, 2020 - 1:31 pm

    <p>Bad day for Google. This and the DOJ lawsuit.</p><p>Google advertising business brought in $134.8 billion in revenue last year, accounting for 84% of Google's total business. Wonder what they paid taxes on….</p><p>[And Barr did something right for once.]</p>

    • illuminated

      20 October, 2020 - 1:41 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#587437">In reply to ebraiter:</a></em></blockquote><p>I do not think this looks too good though. Knowing how sloppy this administration is and the timing of the lawsuit makes me think that Google could get out of it cheaply. </p>

  • scovious

    20 October, 2020 - 2:07 pm

    <p>The best way to serve justice to Google is to break it up. I don't want to see Android, Youtube, and the ad monopoly all under the same roof.</p>

  • spiderman2

    20 October, 2020 - 2:25 pm


  • sammyg

    20 October, 2020 - 3:17 pm

    <p>Finally. I hope they bust them up and YouTube gets sold off. It is the only Google product I use.</p>

  • illuminated

    20 October, 2020 - 4:19 pm

    <blockquote><em><a href="#587470">In reply to lvthunder:</a></em></blockquote><p>Wasn't there a news article recently about DOJ lawyers being against lawsuit going too fast? I think that something should be done against monopolies like google but going without proper preparation is not smart. </p><p><br></p>

  • ngc224

    20 October, 2020 - 4:33 pm

    <blockquote><a href="#587471"><em>In reply to lvthunder:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p><p><span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.87);">Justice delayed is justice denied.</span></p>

    • lvthunder

      Premium Member
      21 October, 2020 - 1:07 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#587505">In reply to ngc224:</a></em></blockquote><p>No it's not. Justice takes time in complicated matters like this. It's not some TV show where the case is over after an hour.</p>

  • lewk

    Premium Member
    21 October, 2020 - 12:49 am

    <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">“People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”</span></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">This statement by Google is appalling. I am forced to use Google as the only alternative to android is iphone. And I can't afford to buy an iphone. I wouldn't use a single Google product if I had a choice. But I'm forced to use android and it stresses me out each and every day.</span></p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      21 October, 2020 - 8:12 am

      This was with regards to search.


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