The US government has accused Google, a unit of the tech giant’s umbrella company Alphabet Inc., of paying “billions” each year to distributors, including mobile phone companies and web browser developers, to secure default status for its search engine.
For years, Google has entered into exclusionary agreements, including tying arrangements, and engaged in anticompetitive conduct to lock up distribution channels and block rivals.
The suit will specifically target the company’s business dealings with device manufacturers who use the Android operating system, onto which Google’s search engine comes pre-loaded.
Eleven states joined the federal lawsuit against the Silicon Valley behemoth, according to court filings.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley said in a statement that the federal lawsuit was “the most important antitrust case in a generation.”
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 20, 2020
Earlier in October, a House Judiciary subcommittee concluded after a probe that Google wielded monopoly power with its search engine. The investigation by the Democrat-majority body noted that Google has been able to maintain its dominant position through acquisitions, with the company buying up some 260 companies in 20 years. The company was investigated together with Apple, Amazon and Facebook – and for all of them, the investigation found evidence of monopoly power.
In its response, Google branded the lawsuit “deeply flawed.”
People use Google because they choose to – not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.
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. We will have a full statement this morning.
— Google Public Policy (@googlepubpolicy) October 20, 2020
This isn’t the first time that Google has been accused of having an unfair advantage over its rivals. The European Union slapped the company with a $1.7 billion fine last year for preventing websites from using Google’s competitors to find advertisers.
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