The United States Government today launched a lawsuit against Google for maintaining an “illegal monopoly” in the Internet search market and demanded “structural” changes that could lead to a fragmentation of the technology giant.
Presented by the Justice Department along with 11 Republican state prosecutors, the process could take years to unfold, but – of great political significance – already inaugurates a battle between the US government and the company, with potentially important implications for the sector.
After breaking the news, Google called the case “deeply flawed.”
“People use Google because they want to, not because they are forced to do so or because they cannot find alternatives,” Alphabet’s main subsidiary said in a statement, in which it boasts of having put the world’s information “within reach. of more than a billion people. ”
“We trust that a court will determine that this lawsuit does not match either the facts or the law,” they stated.
This complaint is the first phase of what is shaping up to be multiple offensives against the computer firm, as the Texas attorney general is preparing another for its conduct in the digital advertising market.
According to the Deputy Attorney General of the Department of Justice, Jeffrey Rosen, the case started today in Washington points to the monopolistic position of Google in the digital ecosystem.
“Google is the gateway to the Internet,” Rosen told a news conference, referring to the billions of dollars the company paid device makers to be its primary search engine.
“It maintained its monopoly through exclusionary practices that are detrimental to competition,” he said.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs proposed that the court consider a number of solutions, including a possible fragmentation of the company, although without providing too many details.
In fact, the court is asked to “ban Google” from monopolistic practices and consider “the necessary structural relief to cure any damage” to its competitors, which could translate into internal changes within the giant.
Asked about it, Rosen avoided responding, saying: “The litigation will have to continue a bit longer before we want to establish specific details.”
The complaint was filed after months of investigations carried out by federal and state antitrust agents, who sought to verify the power of Google and also carried out parallel investigations of other platforms such as Amazon, Facebook, and Apple.
In almost every state in the country, federal agencies, parliamentary committees, and prosecutors have launched various investigations against these technology firms, whose behavior displeases both conservative officials, who accuse them of bias, and progressives, concerned about infractions to the law. competition law and the strengthening of inequalities.
“We plan to continue our review of the competitive practices of the main online platforms,” confirmed Rosen.
Michael Carrier, a law professor at Rutgers University who specializes in competition issues, said this case could seek to force Google to remove some of its software from Android phones, the AFP news agency reported.
Something similar to what happened to Microsoft in the 1990s, when customers were forced to use other programs.
But, just two weeks before the presidential elections in the United States, Carrier considered that the presentation of the complaint in this context “raises the possibility that political concerns are playing a role.”
Google, Alphabet’s main unit, runs the world’s most widely used search engine and also offers a variety of related services, such as maps, email, advertising, and shopping. In addition, it operates the Android mobile operating system, used in most smartphones globally.
Although this is the first lawsuit of its kind against the technology giant in the United States, Google has already been fined by the European authorities for using unfair practices to strengthen its dominant position, mainly in the field of Internet searches.
However, the company continues to deny the allegations related to monopolistic practices.