American trustbusters take on Google

IT WAS A long time coming. On October 20th the Department of Justice (DoJ) at last launched a federal antitrust lawsuit against Google. It is the first time American trustbusters have gone after big tech since their protracted battle against Microsoft 20 years ago. Eleven states signed on to the suit, in which the DoJ accuses the technology giant of abusing its online-search monopoly. Others are likely to bring their own cases against the firm. William Barr, the attorney-general, called it “monumental”. He is both right and wrong.

Google and its parent company, Alphabet, are not the only ones to come under pressure. Amazon, Facebook and Apple (though not Microsoft, which has trodden carefully since its antitrust run-in) have been variously lambasted for enabling election manipulation, violating privacy and abusing their digital monopolies.

In that grand scheme of things, the Google case can seem piffling. It carves out only some alleged misdeeds in one part of the business of a single firm. Specifically, the DoJ’s lawyers accuse Google of an illegal monopoly in “general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising”. They say that to retard rivals like Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Google uses a web of “exclusionary” contracts with smartphone-makers which, they claim,...



via Business Feeds

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