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U.S. Justice Department and 11 states file antitrust lawsuit against Google

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The left has a monopoly on the dissemination of information. Google, Facebook, Twitter – the fix is in.

For years, we have tried to address this is courts.  It was our lawsuit that brought Section 230 to the attention of those joining the fight.

Tech companies such as Google and Facebook are also utilities of sorts that provide essential services. They depend on the free use of public airwaves. Yet they are subject to little oversight; they simply make up their own rules as they go along. Antitrust laws prohibit one corporation from unfairly devouring its competition, capturing most of its market, and then price-gouging as it sees fit without fear of competition. Google has all but destroyed its search-engine competitors in the same manner that Facebook has driven out competing social media.

Why are huge tech companies seemingly exempt from the rules that older corporations must follow?

First, their CEOs wisely cultivate the image of hipsters. The public sees them more as aging teenagers in T-shirts, turtlenecks, and flip-flops than as updated versions of J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, or other robber barons of the past.

Second, the tech industry’s hierarchy is politically progressive. In brilliant marketing fashion, the Internet, laptops, tablets, and smartphones have meshed with the hip youth culture of music, television, the movies, universities, and fashion. Think Woodstock rather than Wall Street.

CNN, which has already drawn fire for its reluctance to cover a claim of sexual assault against Joe Biden, failed to uncover its own archive footage in which his accuser’s mother called into Larry King’s old show in what some critics are calling “journalistic misconduct.” (more….)

Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

Lawsuit follows lengthy investigation and seeks to break company’s grip over search traffic

By Brent Kendell and Rob Copeland, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2020 11:12 am ET

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday alleging that Google engaged in anticompetitive conduct to preserve monopolies in search and search advertising that form the cornerstones of its vast conglomerate.

The long-anticipated case, filed in a Washington, D.C., federal court, marks the most aggressive U.S. legal challenge to a company’s dominance in the tech sector in more than two decades, with the potential to shake up Silicon Valley and beyond. Once a public darling, Google attracted considerable scrutiny over the past decade as it gained power but has avoided a true showdown with the government until now.

The department alleged that Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., GOOG -0.34% is maintaining its status as gatekeeper to the internet through an unlawful web of exclusionary and interlocking business agreements that shut out competitors. The government alleged that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisements on its platform to pay mobile-phone manufacturers, carriers and browsers, like Apple Inc.’s Safari, to maintain Google as their preset, default search engine.

The upshot is that Google has pole position in search on hundreds of millions of American devices, with little opportunity for any competitor to make inroads, the government alleged.

The lawsuit also took aim at arrangements in which Google’s search application is preloaded, and can’t be deleted, on mobile phones running its popular Android operating system. The government alleged Google unlawfully prohibits competitors’ search applications from being preloaded on phones under revenue-sharing arrangements.

Google owns or controls search distribution channels accounting for about 80% of search queries in the U.S., the lawsuit said. That means Google’s competitors can’t get a meaningful number of search queries and build a scale needed to compete, leaving consumers with less choice and less innovation, and advertisers with less competitive prices, the lawsuit alleged.

“Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed,” a Google spokeswoman said. “People use Google because they choose to—not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives. We will have a fuller statement this morning.”
Justice Department to Sue Google for Alleged Anticompetitive Conduct
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Justice Department to Sue Google for Alleged Anticompetitive Conduct
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The Justice Department is filing an antitrust lawsuit against Google. Here’s how the tech giant ended up in the crosshairs of federal regulators. WSJ’s Jason Bellini reports. Photo: Getty Images

Alphabet’s shares opened Tuesday up roughly 1%, ahead of the broader market, after The Wall Street Journal first reported news of the impending suit.

The Mountain View, Calif., company, sitting on a $120 billion cash hoard, is unlikely to shrink from a legal fight. The company has argued that it faces vigorous competition across its different operations and that its products and platforms help businesses small and large reach new customers.

Google’s defense against critics of all stripes has long been rooted in the fact that its services are largely offered to consumers at little or no cost, undercutting the traditional antitrust argument around potential price harms to those who use a product.

The lawsuit follows a Justice Department investigation that has stretched more than a year, and comes amid a broader examination of the handful of technology companies that play an outsize role in the U.S. economy and the daily lives of most Americans.
Search PartyGoogle dominates the search market acrossplatforms and is especially strong in mobile.U.S. search-engine market share, August2020.

A loss for Google could mean court-ordered changes to how it operates parts of its business, potentially creating new openings for rival companies. The Justice Department’s lawsuit didn’t specify particular remedies; that is usually addressed later in a case. One Justice Department official said nothing is off the table, including possibly seeking structural changes to Google’s business.

A victory for Google could deal a huge blow to Washington’s overall scrutiny of big tech companies, potentially hobbling other investigations and enshrining Google’s business model after lawmakers and others challenged its market power. Such an outcome, however, might spur Congress to take legislative action against the company.

The case could take years to resolve, and the responsibility for managing the suit will fall to the appointees of whichever candidate wins the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The challenge marks a new chapter in the history of Google, a company formed in 1998 in a garage in a San Francisco suburb—the same year Microsoft Corp. was hit with a blockbuster government antitrust case accusing the software giant of unlawful monopolization. That case, which eventually resulted in a settlement, was the last similar government antitrust case against a major U.S. tech firm.

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