By Haley Chi-Sing
BU News Service
WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, accusing the tech giant of consolidating monopoly power in order to retain its vast conglomerate. This lawsuit comes nearly two weeks after Congress’s release of its year-long anti-trust investigation report.
The anti-trust lawsuit is the most aggressive legal action taken against a tech company in more than two decades. In the lawsuit, the DOJ claims that Google is illegally posing as a gatekeeper to the internet. With billion-dollar payments from companies such as Apple, Google has become the default internet search engine on a multitude of platforms and devices.
“Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth,” said Jeffrey Rosen, deputy attorney general and head of the year-long anti-trust investigation that spurred the lawsuit, in a comment to The New York Times.
The lawsuit could take years to settle and possibly result in more anti-trust lawsuits against other tech companies cited in the investigation report, including Apple, Amazon and Facebook. Eleven other states – including Texas, South Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky and Florida – have joined the suit.
Along with the DOJ anti-trust report, an investigation into Facebook by officials at the Federal Trade Commission has yielded similar results. The results of that investigation could also result in litigation. Dozens of states and jurisdictions have also conducted their own investigations in a similar fashion.
The DOJ lawsuit is a culmination of pushback by large tech companies, such as Google, against governmental steps to minimize their monopoly power. Government authorities on both ends of the spectrum, including President Donald Trump, have been outwardly critical of tech companies wielding so much power in the marketplace. Attorney General William P. Barr took an active role in the year-long investigation, originally pushing for a late September lawsuit.
Rosen said the suit marked “a milestone but not a stopping point” in a press call on Tuesday.
Despite the extended wait time, either party’s win or loss could result in a landmark decision. A loss for Google might mean a huge hit to Silicon Valley and its technological hub. The ruling could also require court-ordered changes regarding operations and logistics within the tech company, which would open possible doors to other tech challenges. Concrete remedies from the DOJ have yet to be released.
A loss for the government could result in a huge blow to Washington and increased scrutiny of large tech moguls such as Google. A Washington loss could potentially push back other tech investigations and, in the long run, further Google’s power. However, a loss could also prompt Congress to take legislative action in response.
The lawsuit could have potential side effects on the upcoming election on Nov. 3, with tech experts citing the various impacts on democracy and small businesses across the nation.