Google hit by suit over monopoly abuse

Business | Reuters 22 Oct 2020

The US Department of Justice and 11 states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet's Google on Tuesday for allegedly breaking the law in using its market power to fend off rivals, kicking off one of the largest antitrust cases in US history.

The lawsuit marks the biggest antitrust case in a generation, comparable to the lawsuit against Microsoft Corp filed in 1998 and the 1974 case against AT&T which led to the breakup of the Bell System.

Alphabet's shares were up 1.39 percent on Tuesday.

Jake Ward, President, Connected Commerce Council said: "(The lawsuit) is political theater under the guise of protecting market integrity."

"Fierce competition among digital companies vying for small businesses' advertising and marketing dollars has produced an abundance of free and low-cost digital tools that countless small businesses use to run and grow their business in normal times and that comprise the Digital Safety Net that helps sustain them in times of crisis," Ward said in a statement.

Google said the US Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit against the company was "deeply flawed" and that users would find it more difficult to access superior search tools and affordable smartphones if the government wins its case.

"American antitrust law is designed to promote innovation and help consumers, not tilt the playing field in favor of particular competitors or make it harder for people to get the services they want," Google senior vice president Kent Walker said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Companies could carry other search engines, but users have repeatedly shown a preference for Google's search tools, Walker said.

Consumers who prefer an alternative are able to switch the default search tool on iPhones and other devices, he said.

But forcing device and browser makers to set "lower-quality search alternatives" as the default was not beneficial to consumers, Walker added.

He also described as incorrect the Justice Department's conclusion that topic-specific search tools such as travel services Kayak and Expedia or shopping giant Inc were not competitors to Google search.

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