Google faces major antitrust lawsuits for alleged search monopoly

"As the gateway to the internet, Google has systematically degraded the ability of other companies to access consumers."

Image Credit: Getty Images

On Thursday, an antitrust lawsuit was filed against Google for alleging the tech giant dominates the general search results. Google is now in a battle with state and federal prosecutors, who have accused the iconic search engine of monopolizing online searches.

A coalition of 38 states and territories led by Colorado and Nebraska including Arizona, Iowa, New York, North Caroline, Tennessee and Utah, is “seeking to consolidate the case with a landmark suit filed by the United States Department of Justice,” C|Net reported. This is the third antitrust suit filed against the tech giant within a few weeks.

“Google, one of the largest companies in the world, has methodically undertaken actions to entrench and reinforce its general search services and search-related advertising monopolies by stifling competition,” the complaint reads. “As the gateway to the internet, Google has systematically degraded the ability of other companies to access consumers.”

The lawsuit alleged the most used website on the internet—Google processes about 90 percent of all online searches in the U.S.—gives preference to its own content in search results to the likes of shopping ads or local business listings while hurting competitors. The lawsuit also claims that Google “takes content from publishers and other websites and uses it in prepared answers directly in search results, rather than simply providing a list of links that send users to other sites,” C|Net reported.

“Public Citizen welcomes the latest antitrust suits against Google targeting the complex web of monopolies that the company has created,” Alex Harman, competition policy advocate for Public Citizen, said. “Google has built a monopoly in online advertising that is unfair, excludes competitors and drives up prices. And with its control of its search engine, Google has been able to unfairly filter out listings for competitors while promoting its own businesses.”

Google responded that redesigning its search results would harm consumers.

“We know that scrutiny of big companies is important and we’re prepared to answer questions and work through the issues,” the company said. “But this lawsuit seeks to redesign Search in ways that would deprive Americans of helpful information and hurt businesses’ ability to connect directly with customers.”

But Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson disagreed with the company and said, “It’s not ‘People use Google.’ It’s ‘Google uses people.'” He concluded that Google takes personal data from people in which the company uses to fuel its dominance.

In a lawsuit filed by the DOJ in October, it claimed Google “has maintained monopolies in search and search advertising,” C|Net reported. The case said antitrust law was broken when the company made deals with phone makers like Apple and Samsung to be the default search engine on their phones, which created such dominance and hurt their competitors.

“As Google perceives potential threats to its hegemony, it blunts and burdens those competitive threats,” the lawsuit said.

While Google has come under scrutiny in the past, competitors of Google applaud the most recent lawsuit with hope that it will be the “beginning of a return to a more vibrant and open internet,” Luther Lowe, Yelp’s senior vice president of public policy, said.

“Bringing an antitrust case against the most powerful company in the world requires determination and courage, so we applaud the cooperative, bipartisan work of the state attorneys general and all the staff involved in this lawsuit,” he said.


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