Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google for Abusing Its Monopoly Power

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google alleging the company of abusing its dominance over smaller rivals by operating like an illegal monopoly. The action represents the federal government’s most significant legal action in more than two decades to confront a technology giant’s power.

Justice Department lawyers accuse Google of harnessing its internet gatekeeper role to enrich the company’s vast business empire, stifling competitors and hurting consumers through exclusionary agreements, including deals such as the one it struck with Apple making Google the default search engine on the Safari browser on iPhones.

Justice Department officials said Google spending profits made from its powerful position to buy special treatment for its search engine on devices and Web browsers created a “self-reinforcing cycle” of monopoly power abuse.

“If the government does not enforce the antitrust laws to enable competition, we could lose the next wave of innovation. If that happens, Americans may never get to see the next Google,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said at a Tuesday press conference.

“The Google of today is a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet,” the complaint says. “For many years, Google has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising — the cornerstones of its empire.”

In the suit, Justice Department lawyers ask a federal court to stop Google from maintaining its fierce grip over Internet search and search advertising. The government is asking a federal judge to provide structural relief “as needed” to resolve the alleged anticompetitive behavior.

While the complaint does not specify what remedy the suit is seeking, Justice officials said “nothing is off the table.”

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SOURCE: NPR, Bobby Allyn, Shannon Bond, and Ryan Lucas