MAGA Justice Department Beats Conflicted Democrats In Holding Google Accountable, Files Landmark Antitrust Lawsuit

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Written by Dana Sanchez
antitrust
MAGA Justice Department Beats Conflicted Democrats In Holding Google Accountable, Files Landmark Antitrust Lawsuit. Image: Tsahi Levent-Levi / Flickr / CC

Eleven states, all with Republican attorneys general, have joined the federal government in its antitrust lawsuit against Google, which is accused of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising.

Google owns Chrome, the leading web browser in the U.S. with 88.14 percent of the search engine market. The distant second- and third-place holders in the search engine market are Bing (6.67 percent) and Yahoo! (3.19 percent), according to StatCounter Global Stats.

Google defended itself in a tweet, saying it’s No. one because users choose it.

“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 MAGA Department of Justice begged to differ, calling Google a monopoly, AP reported.

“Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth,” U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told reporters. “It has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition.”

The lawsuit did not ask for specific remedies, but it could threaten a major revenue stream for Google and Apple.

Google’s partnership with Apple is at the heart of the DOJ antitrust lawsuit, which potentially threatens a major revenue stream for both tech giants, Wall Street Journal reported.

The lawsuit projects that Google accounts for between 15-and-20 percent of Apple’s annual profits.

Google pays Apple as much as $11 billion — about a third of parent Alphabet’s annual profits — to be the default browser on Apple’s Safari app. Apple users are automatically fed Google search results and related advertising.

“Google has almost completely shut out its competitors from mobile distribution,” the lawsuit said.

Kent Walker, Google’s chief legal officer, argued in a blog post that its partnership with Apple is “no different from the agreements that many other companies have traditionally used to distribute software.”

Google has been in Trump’s crosshairs for several years. POTUS has often criticized Google, “recycling unfounded claims by conservatives that the search giant is biased against conservatives and suppresses their viewpoints,” according to WSJ.

A recent investigation by a House Judiciary subcommittee concluded that Google has monopoly power in the market for search. Its report said that Google gained a monopoly through acquisitions, buying up successful technology that other businesses had developed and buying about 260 companies in 20 years, AP reported.

The Democratic congressman who led that investigation called Tuesday’s action by the DOJ “long overdue.”

“It is critical that the Justice Department’s lawsuit focuses on Google’s monopolization of search and search advertising, while also targeting the anticompetitive business practices Google is using to leverage this monopoly into other areas, such as maps, browsers, video, and voice assistants,” Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a statement.

A bipartisan coalition of 50 U.S. states and territories, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, announced a year ago they were investigating Google’s business practices, citing “potential monopolistic behavior.” The DOJ sought support for its suit from states across the U.S.

Some said the DOJ’s timing, two weeks from Election Day, smacked of politics. 

The states joining the DOJ’s lawsuit all have Republican attorneys general, including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas.

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The attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah released a statement Monday saying they have not finished their investigation into Google and would want to consolidate their case with the DOJ’s if they decided to file, AP reported.

“Don’t count out the Democratic AGs! They’re still investigating and don’t have the same time pressure Barr has,” tweeted Sally Hubbard, an antitrust expert who runs enforcement strategy at the Open Markets Institute.

“It’s a bipartisan statement,” said spokesman Fabien Levy of the New York State attorney general’s office. “There’s things that still need to be fleshed out.”