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Is Google Holding a Monopoly on Search Engine Data?

Modern tech giants have been accused of monopolization in the past. From earlier battles with Microsoft in the 1990s to recent accusations against Apple regarding the mobile game market, these companies aren't exactly strangers to such criticism.

Nonetheless, the latest accusations – targeting Google for holding monopolies on search engine marketing and advertising – might be the most prolific case to date.

Making the Case Against Google

The landmark lawsuit was first filed in late October 2020 by the U.S. Department of Justice. Representing an investigation that lasted for more than a year, the lawsuit cites antitrust violations and anticompetitive practices. As such, it's the first antitrust lawsuit we've seen in the tech industry in several decades.

According to the lawsuit, Google made deals with various phone manufacturers – including Samsung and Apple – in order to give them greater exposure within the search results of consumers. Moreover, the lawsuit continues on to claim that Google is actively taking steps to force manufacturers to pre-install Google apps and software onto their new devices.

Jeff Rosen, U.S. deputy attorney general, spoke about the matter by saying: "As the antitrust complaint filed today explains, [Google] has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition. If the government does not enforce the 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."

At the time of this writing, no less than 11 states have all signed onto the lawsuit, including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas. However, several other states, including Colorado and New York, are expected to wrap up their own investigations within the coming weeks and months.

A Growing Movement

While this is the first antitrust lawsuit we've seen in the tech industry for quite some time, it's actually part of a much bigger movement to increase scrutiny throughout Silicon Valley. In fact, a subcommittee with the U.S. Department of Justice first released their findings several weeks before announcing the lawsuit.

This isn't even the first time that Google has dealt with the U.S. government. In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission began investigating the search engine giant. According to their findings, however, Google was not in violation of antitrust laws.

Even if the lawsuit was expected by the team at Google, the news is not to be taken lightly. The team at Microsoft faced serious repercussions when the company failed to defend themselves in a similar lawsuit in 1998, and some say it even contributed to the early retirement of Bill Gates himself. While Microsoft did win an appeal, they were still forced to make some major organizational changes as a result.

Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs, replied to the lawsuit in a recent blog post by saying, in part: ''"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."''


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