Google is currently facing three federal antitrust lawsuits, including one from the Department of Justice that alleges that the company's dominant search engine has allowed it to become a monopolistic guardian of the Internet. In the last two months, two more antitrust lawsuits have been filed against Google, bringing the total to three. These cases are part of a larger trend of government agencies around the world scrutinizing Google's competitive practices. The Department of Justice lawsuit, filed in October, claims that Google has used exclusive contracts to maintain its monopolistic power by blocking the main distribution channels for competition.
Texas led a group of nine other Republican state attorneys general in a separate lawsuit focusing on Google's ad technology business and an alleged anti-competitive agreement with Facebook. Google is also facing two major antitrust challenges from private plaintiffs. Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, sued Apple and Google separately for alleged anti-competitive practices. Online publishers Genius Media and The Nation filed a lawsuit on Wednesday alleging that Google harmed their businesses by suppressing advertising competition.
The European Commission has already imposed billions of dollars in fines on Google in three separate competition cases, against which Google has appealed. Regulators in other countries have also been at odds with Google's competitive practices, such as in Australia, where News Corp, one of Google's main critics, has a significant presence. In all important cases, Google has denied engaging in any anti-competitive conduct and maintains that its decisions are made for the benefit of consumers. The Justice Department lawsuit closely follows its previous lawsuit against Microsoft in the late 1990s, at least apparently.
Both discuss efforts to maintain monopolistic power by blocking the main distribution channels for competition and using supposedly exclusive contracts to guarantee the default state of their technology on manufacturers' devices.A bipartisan group of attorneys general from 38 states and territories filed a third lawsuit against Google on Thursday. This complaint delves into Google's alleged efforts to block emerging distribution channels, such as smart speakers. It also alleges that Google limits the ability of vertical search providers, such as Yelp and Tripadvisor, to reach consumers by using discriminatory behavior on their search results page. The complaint also concerns Google's advertising tools, alleging that they unfairly harm advertisers by denying them the possibility of interoperating between their own advertising tools and those of the competition.The House of Representatives antitrust judicial subcommittee released a lengthy report in October that its authors hope will result in lasting changes in the law.
The report followed more than a year of research on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, in which it was discovered that each of the companies had monopoly power in their respective markets. The majority report revealed that Google's domain worked as an ecosystem of interconnected monopolies that was reinforced by linking different services with extensive user data.The subcommittee is working on new bills that aim to update antitrust laws in a variety of ways so that they are better able to address modern business problems. While Congress has no powers to enforce the law, the report compiled by Democratic staff revealed that the courts have significantly weakened antitrust laws since their enactment, leaving Congress with the duty to legislate to return them to their original intention.While new laws are in sight that could make courts more favorable to the government in such cases, they are far from being an immediate threat. Even so, as long as these demands last, Google will remain under the microscope for every move and acquisition it tries to make.Google is now facing multiple antitrust lawsuits around the world from both government agencies and private plaintiffs.
While it remains to be seen how these cases will be resolved, it is clear that they will have far-reaching implications for how companies operate online.