The United States government has readied an antitrust lawsuit against Google’s search engine, accusing the company of “crushing competition to protect and extend monopoly.”
The move comes after a 14-month long investigation, where the US Department of Justice (DoJ) probed whether Google distorts search results to favour its own products and shuts off access to competitors, sources told Bloomberg.
This is significant as Google enjoys a major 90 percent control of the US online search segment and generates an enviable $100 billion revenue. Rivals have long complained of abuse of power to “snuff out the competition”.
The US is not alone in its concern but had not pursued action against the company since early investigations in 2013. European competition regulators earlier fined Google billions of euros for breaking antitrust laws.
Sources told Bloomberg action is expected within the next week or two, after the State attorneys general and Justice Department lawyers complete final preparations for the case this week in Washington. Officials met with Google reps the previous week to discuss accusations of search bias against competitors and providing of Google and other partners as default to users.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
“It’s impossible for small search engine competitors to compete with Google’s deep pockets and outbid it for valuable placements like Apple’s browser,” Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, said in his complaint to the DoJ.
In a recent statement, a spokesperson for DuckDuckGo said the company is pleased that the DoJ “is going to finally address the elephant in the room: Google’s obvious, overwhelming, and anti-competitive dominance in search,” adding that “a world without search defaults” would benefit consumers.
Spearheaded by US Attorney General William Barr, this could now become the country’s biggest monopoly case since the suit against Microsoft in 1998. It also comes amid US President Donald Trump’s crackdown on US tech firms alleging political censoring.
William Kovacic, a law professor at George Washington University and a former Fair Trade Commission (FTC) chairman told the publication that the DoJ could make a similar arguments about “demanding exclusivity as a way of excluding rivals” that it used “successfully” against Microsoft in the past.