In Its First Monopoly Trial of Modern Internet Era, U.S. Sets Sights on Google
Source：New York Times
After three years and two presidential administrations, the United States' Department of Justice began a case against Google – U.S. et al. v. Google – claiming that Alphabet Inc. violated antitrust law by using its position as the world's dominant search engine to push its own products and services. The case marks the first major antitrust suit in the modern internet era, an era characterized by the extensive growth of a few large tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and Meta. Unlike previous attempts to enforce antitrust law in the technology sector, which focused on mergers and acquisitions, the Justice Department will focus on the search engine business in its case against Google.
Google, founded in 1998, quickly grew to a $1.7 trillion company known as the "home page" of the internet. In its case, the Justice Department alleges that Google illegally paid other technology companies to ensure that its search platform was the default on iPhones and other smart devices. The suit goes further in alleging that Google maintained a monopoly, making it more difficult for consumers to choose an alternative search engine. Google maintains that the deals it made with prominent tech companies were not exclusive and did not reduce or hamper consumer choice. Google holds 90% of the search engine market in the United States and 91% globally.
Judge Amit P. Mehta, who was appointed by Barack Obama, will preside over the trial, which will not have a jury. Kenneth Dintzer will litigate for the Justice Department, while John E. Schmidtlein will litigate on behalf of Google. The trial is expected to last ten weeks and is expected to call Sundar Pichai, Google's CEO, and other prominent tech executives as witnesses. To date, more than 150 people have been deposed for the case, and over five million pages of documents have been produced. Google is also accused of destroying instant messages of employees that pertain to the case. Google has also been sued by a group of 35 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia for maintaining a monopoly and using the monopoly to suppress competitors. The Justice Department hopes that this suit will shift the views of the court system toward curbing monopolies, even when their behavior may not directly affect consumers.