Google is on the verge of a trial scheduled for Tuesday, with the Department of Justice (DOJ) aiming to address allegations of antitrust law violations, potentially reshaping the dominance of Big Tech and leading to the division of the tech giant.
This civil antitrust lawsuit against Google, filed in October 2020, leverages the Sherman Act and contends that Google employed unlawful practices to uphold a monopoly in the search and search advertising sectors, as stated by the DOJ.
The upcoming ten-week trial, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and overseen by Judge Amit Mehta, is expected to feature testimony from several high-ranking executives, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The outcome of this trial could potentially result in a complete breakup of the company, according to reports by the Associated Press.
Bill Barr, the former attorney general, emphasized the significance of the case, stating, “Today, millions of Americans rely on the Internet and online platforms for their daily lives. Competition in this industry is vitally important, which is why today’s challenge against Google — the gatekeeper of the Internet — for violating antitrust laws is a monumental case both for the Department of Justice and for the American people.”
The lawsuit asserts that Google engaged in specific actions to maintain its market monopoly. These actions include entering into exclusivity agreements that prevent the preinstallation of competing search engines, securing agreements to place its service prominently on mobile devices with the condition of being non-removable, and forming a partnership with Apple to establish Google as the default search engine on its Safari browser, as detailed in the DOJ announcement.
The biggest monopoly trial in 25 years.— App Economy Insights (@EconomyApp) September 11, 2023
'U.S. et al. v. Google' kicks off tomorrow.
🔎 The US government challenges Google over its search dominance, notably its deals with Apple making Google the default search on iPhones.$GOOG holds ~91% of the global search market. pic.twitter.com/rXFtkDXsuc
If Judge Mehta determines that Google has indeed violated antitrust law, a subsequent trial will be convened to decide the remedial actions to address the company’s monopoly, as reported by the AP. Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, boasts a market capitalization of $1.7 trillion and annual ad sales of $224 billion, supporting a workforce of 182,000 employees while commanding a 90% share of the internet search market.
Potential outcomes for Google, in the event of a guilty verdict, include the possibility of mandatory business divestment or the creation of a more competitive environment for consumers by promoting alternative search engines. Such developments may serve as a deterrent for other major tech companies to engage in practices that could trigger DOJ litigation, according to Investopedia.
Additionally, it could result in the termination of contracts with smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, which currently provide preferential treatment to Google’s search engine. Such actions would limit the ability of Big Tech firms to collaborate seamlessly, potentially impacting their efforts to maintain market dominance.
Mike Davis, founder and president of the Internet Accountability Project (IAP), emphasized the significance of the case, stating, “Competition and innovation are as American as it gets, and Google has done everything it can to stifle both for decades now. If Google is found to be in violation of antitrust laws, the free market and all its creativity will be allowed to flourish once again. Google would be held accountable under federal antitrust law for the first time in the company’s history, a major moment in the fight against Big Tech.”