Google said that contrary to claims made by the US Justice Department, people choose to use its search engine and are not forced to.
The US Justice Department has officially filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging that the tech giant is actively working to maintain a monopoly when it comes to search engines and online advertising.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit was filed in US federal court yesterday (20 October). It follows an investigation of more than a year into Big Tech competition, which saw Google boss Sundar Pichai defend the company’s actions at a US Congress antitrust hearing in July.
In its suit, the US government claims that Google uses billions of dollars it collects in revenue from its dominant position in online advertising to pay phone manufacturers and browsers to make Google their default search engine.
“Google achieved some success in its early years, and no one begrudges that,” said the deputy US attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen.
“If the government does not enforce its antitrust laws to enable competition, we could lose the next wave of innovation. If that happens, Americans may never get to see the next Google.”
‘With success comes scrutiny’
In a blog post, Google’s senior vice-president of global affairs, Kent Walker, strongly denied the claims made by the US government and said that the lawsuit is “deeply flawed”.
“People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives,” he said.
“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.”
Walker went on to say that the case relies on “dubious antitrust arguments” and claimed it suggests Americans aren’t “sophisticated enough” to realise how to change their search engine provider.
“We understand that with our success comes scrutiny, but we stand by our position,” Walker said. “American antitrust law is designed to promote innovation and help consumers, not tilt the playing field in favour of particular competitors or make it harder for people to get the services they want. We’re confident that a court will conclude that this suit doesn’t square with either the facts or the law.”
Earlier this month, Google was among those named in the ‘Investigation of Competition in Digital Markets’ report. The report was the culmination of a 16-month investigation by the US Congress into the practices of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon to determine any antitrust violations and evidence of having unfair control of the tech market.
Its authors said they had found sufficient evidence that Google’s dominance over the search market and search advertising markets resulted in an “ecosystem of interlocking monopolies”. In response, Google said its free products such as Maps and Gmail “help millions of Americans”.