The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to file a lawsuit against Google, owned by Alphabet, for violating anti-trust laws and actively enabling a monopoly in search engines and search advertising.
The announcement will come after at least a year’s worth of investigation by prosecutors, who “have spoken with Google’s rivals in technology and media, collecting information and documents that could be used to build a case.”
According to officials at the DOJ, the lawsuit will focus on Google’s illegal actions in creating exclusive contracts with companies such as Apple, to make Google the default search engine on their line of software products like Safari.
It is these types of exclusionary billion-dollar agreements, the government will argue, that gives Google a market edge, “controlling about 80% of search queries in the U.S.,” that no competitor can match, hurts consumer choice, and prevents innovation.
The suit is expected to be filed in federal court in Washington. D.C., but is just the beginning of lawsuits headed Google’s way.
According to the New York Times, “about four dozen states and jurisdictions have conducted parallel investigations and are expected to bring separate complaints against the company’s grip on technology for online advertising.”
Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a longtime public critic of Google and other big tech entities who worked as Missouri Attorney General and as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to fight against Google’s anti-competitive practices, expressed his support for the lawsuit in a statement.
“Today’s lawsuit is the most important antitrust case in a generation,” Hawley said. “Google and its fellow Big Tech monopolists exercise unprecedented power over the lives of ordinary Americans, controlling everything from the news we read to the security of our most personal information. And Google in particular has gathered and maintained that power through illegal means.”
“To be clear – this is just a first step, and I will continue to fight for the legislative solutions needed to end the tyranny of Big Tech,” he added.
In early October, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Google v. Oracle, a case that has raged on for 10 years over Google’s use of 11,000 lines of copied code from Oracle’s Java. Google argues that the code can’t be copyrightable, but during the justices were not impressed with Google’s arguments.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has also recently pursued Google during their big tech hearings, asking them questions about censorship, digital advertising, and market power.
While Google executives have previously argued that they are not dominant in the market, the committee “raised questions about Google’s lack of transparency in advertisement bidding and stacking, YouTube content engagement, growing and dominant market power, and data sharing.”