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The Justice Department filed a historic and long-anticipated antitrust lawsuit against Google over its allegedly anti-competitive business practices, especially how it has used its search dominance in the online advertising arena to defeat its competitors, a senior DOJ official confirmed to the Washington Examiner.

The federal lawsuit, first reported on Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal, was filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C. The DOJ's civil case against Google was signed by 11 state attorneys general from Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.

The 64-page lawsuit aims
"to restrain Google LLC from unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising in the United States through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices, and to remedy the effects of this conduct."

"Two decades ago, Google became the darling of Silicon Valley as a scrappy startup with an innovative way to search the emerging internet. That Google is long gone. The Google of today is a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet, and one of the wealthiest companies on the planet, with a market value of $1 trillion and annual revenue exceeding $160 billion."
The Justice Department and the states invoked Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, accusing Google of illegally maintaining monopolies in the markets for "general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising."


Comment: To view the case document: Case 1:20-cv-03010 - GO HERE.


The Justice Department said in a press call that Google had maintained its monopoly in large part by paying mobile phone manufacturers and carriers billions of dollars to make Google the default search engine on hundreds of millions of cellphone devices.

Furthermore, phones that use Google's Android software platform cannot change their search engine to an alternative if they want to benefit from a revenue-sharing agreement with the tech behemoth. Google controls over 80% of general search engine queries in the U.S., in part because almost all users use the default search platform available on their devices, the Justice Department said.

Google claimed it is not behaving in a monopolistic fashion. Google said in a statement:
"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."
The DOJ and many state attorneys general have been investigating the tech giant for more than a year, focused on the anti-competitive conduct in Google's online advertising business fueled by its dominance in the search engine and search advertising sphere, connecting online publishers and advertisers to hundreds of millions of users as Google controls around 90% of global searches.

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim told the Washington Examiner in November that the DOJ's investigation into online platforms would focus on the possibility that tech firms, such as Google, had used data they had gathered from customers to block competitors from markets they manage.

The DOJ's lawsuit could present a significant threat to Google's business model and would be one of the most prominent antitrust cases in U.S. history, alongside the Microsoft antitrust case of the late 1990s. Critics of Google want a range of punishments against the online search giant — from forcing it to change some of its business activities to an entire breakup of the company. A win for Google in court would be a major setback for antitrust efforts against Big Tech.

A bipartisan coalition of the top legal officers from 50 states and territories also announced in September 2019 that it was investigating Google's alleged monopolistic practices.

The group, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, and D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, a Democrat, made the announcement on the steps of the Supreme Court that they would investigate Google's online advertising practices, its data collection strategies, and whether it was taking illegal, anti-competitive actions to stifle the free market online.

"This is not a lawsuit," Paxton said. "This is an investigation to get the facts."

Racine called it an "unusual situation" to see such broad-based bipartisan support among attorneys general who are typically at odds on various issues and said, "We are acting as one team to launch a fair investigation that will follow the facts."

The DOJ began its own antitrust inquiry into Google in July 2019 to review
"whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers."
On the press call Tuesday, DOJ Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said the Google lawsuit marks "a milestone but not a stopping point" in the agency's investigation of online platforms.

The European Commission fined Google $5.1 billion for its anti-competitive practices in 2018.