After a 14-month investigation, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) joined by 11 states filed a landmark antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging that the tech giant used unfair practices to ensure its search and advertising monopoly.
The lawsuit targeted paid deals Google negotiates to get its search engine to be the default on browsers, phones, and other devices. The biggest of these is an agreement reached with Apple to make Google search the default on iPhones and other Apple devices.
The DOJ revealed previously unseen Google documents calling the Apple search deal a "significant revenue channel.'' In 2019, half of Google search traffic came from Apple products, the document revealed.
DOJ cited another internal document describing the meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook to discuss the deal. After the meeting, an anonymous senior Apple staff member said to an Apple colleague that the two companies acted like one.
DOJ estimated that Apple gets $8 billion to $12 billion annually from Google through the search agreement. In addition, Google has also become the default search engine for Siri and system search, replacing a 2017 agreement between Microsoft and Apple.
If the government does not interevene, ''Americans may never get to see the next Google," DOJ spokesperson Marc Raimondi said.
The suit argues that Google has used exclusive business contracts to limit competitors' ability to put their products on Google's Android mobile devices. According to DOJ, Google also incentivizes device manufacturers such as Apple and careers like Verizon to use Google search instead of other options.
DOJ argues that such practices violate the Sherman Antitrust Act, which outlaws companies from ''every contract, combination, or conspiracy'' to monopolize.
DOJ states that Google's anticompetitive practices are affecting three key groups: the American consumers that are ''forced to accept'' the company's often controversial privacy practices; the advertisers who have to pay Google to reach their customers, and the fellow tech companies that cannot emerge from Google's shadow.
Google declined the accusations calling the antitrust case ''deeply flawed.'' According to the company, its agreements don't box out competition. Google highlighted that consumers have plenty of options for a search engine, but they come back to Google as it is the most helpful, and the advertising is more relevant.
No Democratic state attorneys general have joined the case for now. Some of them consider it, including New York State AG Letitia James, who said they might join the suit later after they have finished their own investigation.
What do you think? Will Google Lose The Case?