October 20, 2020

"The Justice Department plans to accuse Google of maintaining an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising in a lawsuit to be filed on Tuesday..."

"... the government’s most significant legal challenge to a tech company’s market power in a generation, according to officials at the agency. In its suit, to be filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., the agency will accuse Google, a unit of Alphabet, of illegally maintaining its monopoly over search through several exclusive business contracts and agreements that lock out competition, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak on the record. Such contracts include Google’s payment of billions of dollars to Apple to place the Google search engine as the default for iPhones... By using contracts to maintain its monopoly, competition and innovation has suffered, the suit with argue.... The lawsuit may stretch on for years and could set off a cascade of other antitrust lawsuits from state attorneys general.... The lawsuit will likely outlast the Trump administration itself. The government’s case against Microsoft took more than a decade to settle.... While it is possible that a new Democratic administration would review the strategy behind the case, some experts said it was unlikely that it would be withdrawn under new leadership."


Ron Winkleheimer said...

Google has done way more egregious stuff to stifle competition than Microsoft did, and is far more powerful. So, since it can exercise such a huge amount of political power, I expect that the people running the government, will want to reign it in or control it.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

The choice this election is an inarticulate businessman who does the right thing.


An old crook who used his celebrity as VP to enrich his family. An old crook who used his name to sell out OUR nation so his family is outrageously comfortable. An old sell-out crook who used his name to sell out to communists in China. Add to that decades of senate seat abuse used to enrich his family/sons.
A man who has a corrupt party and the corrupt press behind him.

Kay said...


RichardJohnson said...

If Biden is elected, will this lawsuit be dropped? Probably so.

Big Mike said...

Facebook would have been a better choice.

wendybar said...

Why WOULD Democrats investigate themselves?? That's silly.

Gusty Winds said...

It's conflicting. As an android user, Google’s integration of Gmail, Calendars, Maps, Contacts etc… is quite a useful easy to use tool. But they are evil. At this point, I’m not sure the Federal Government is powerful enough to even break them up. These aren’t commodity based monopolies that Teddy Roosevelt fought (steel, oil, trains), these are global information and communication monopolies. It’s almost like if one company got control of the printing press 400 years ago, and gained control of what information could be printed.

madAsHell said...

The lawsuit may stretch on for years and could set off a cascade of other antitrust lawsuits from state attorneys general....

AG's wanting to live in the Governor's mansion.

daskol said...

Zaftig. That word keeps coming up.

Bay Area Guy said...

Break up Google!

The Godfather said...

The Alcoa Antitrust Case held that Alcoa’s monopoly of aluminum production violated the Sherman Act, even though Alcoa did nothing wrong to obtain its monopoly and didn’t use its monopoly in ways that injured its customers. Seems to me the same principles would apply to Google.

Wince said...

Sounds like the DOJ is playing it safe, going after the expressly anticompetitive contracts that established Google's monopoly position, not the prevailing market-share dominance issue itself.

Now that Google's market power position is established, will rescinding those contracts alone after years of litigation ameliorate Google's established market-share dominance?


Chasing yesterday's news will likely make many government lawyers rich once they jump to the private sector, however.

Owen said...

Full employment for lawyers!

Kevin said...

Assistant: General Barr, the President is on line one. He wants to know what you found out about the FBI's handing of Hunter Biden's laptop before we go to the polls.

Barr: Jesus! Can't he see that I'm deep into filing an anti-trust action against Google which is at least a decade late?

Assistant: Oh, and he wants to know what you're doing about Twitter.

Barr: Tell him to check back in 2050.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

It’s on!

Churchy LaFemme: said...

Something has got to be done about the Big 3.

Maybe this is it, but these things run on way too long and everything changes underneath them, or there are unexpeced consequences.

Remember when Microsoft bundling the IE browser was a huge issue? Then it was a non-issue. IBM was under a consent decree for years, and that probably had an effect on the PC industry. AT&T was a regulated monopoly, and that held back Unix for critical years..

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Will the corrupt hack press cut Trump's mic when he starts to talk about Biden's corruption?

That is where we are now


Matt Tiabbi:

"The number of press outlets willing to use terms like "misinformation" or "disinformation" about this material when the Biden camp is not even denying it's real shows how far gone this situation is. Coverage is more overtly politicized than campaign rhetoric."

Birkel said...

The best analogy is to Ma Bell.
We broke her up and created a separate research arm and all the Baby Bells.

Google will be cut into pieces that must compete with one another.
Separate business functions and never allow them to re-consolidate.

The Chicago School of thought, RE: antitrust, created very bad outcomes.
The Harvard School of thought was - surprisingly - better.
Now I feel dirty.

Nonapod said...

Obviously this is only tangentially related to the whole New York Post/Hunter Biden story suppression, since as far as I know Google itself didn't participate in it (just Twitter and Facebook). But I'm glad that efforts are finally being made to perhaps bring some of these companies to heel. Although I have serious doubts that any of these challenges and investigations would surive long in the event of a Biden win, especially if the Dems manage to take back the Senate. The Dems love their silicon valley overlords since they seem to be on their side.

Readering said...

IBM sued last day of Johnson administration 1969. Nixon DOJ did not withdraw. Reagan DOJ (everyone above anti-trust division head recused) dropped January 1982.

NCMoss said...

Google's AI has probably foreseen this and devised a plan to thwart the DOJ.

bagoh20 said...

There is a lot of illegality going on and being exposed right now, most of it on the left. Much of it is very serious to the future of our country. This may be the biggest reason to not vote for Biden who would bring investigations and prosecution of most of it to a halt.

Illegality being ignored within our criminal justice institutions, biggest companies, and our elections is the most important issue in my mind for our nation. Corruption is the thing that destroy nations even more than war. It's has a natural power that expands and sustains it. It takes enormous effect and discipline to fight that, but it is absolutely necessary. A thoroughly corrupt United States would be the worst possible future for the world.

bagoh20 said...

You would kind of expect that a company with the motto "Do no evil" would do exactly that, especially when they decided to drop that motto years back.

Jupiter said...

Google is 80 mph without seatbelts. Use duckduckgo.

BarrySanders20 said...

We need a good old fashioned populist trust-buster in the Teddy Roosevelt mold who cannot be bought. A man like Joe Biden!

bagoh20 said...

I consider censoring information, and illegally influencing election to be serious harm to customers - at least 65 million of us. Not to mention, collecting, distributing and selling the most personal information of everyone, and making it impossible to opt out. The only way to stop that and give people a choice is to break Google up.

bagoh20 said...

"Coverage is more overtly politicized than campaign rhetoric."

I read that yesterday, and blown away at the truth of it, and how far it's gone. Real journalists are like mice hiding in a house full of cats. They have to be very careful about being seen out in the open. They are attacked for telling us any bit truth, and half the country is cool with that.

Achilles said...

I don’t think they have the expertise at the Justice department or in judge’s offices to deal with this properly.

We really need this to be done within a year or two. By the time the courts are done with this it will be to late.

Our window for a Butlerian Jihad is maybe 15 years at most.

Maillard Reactionary said...

I wish the DOJ well in this endeavor, but to me it seems a task like attacking a Shoggoth with a machete. (For those unfamiliar with H.P. Lovecraft's menagerie of unpleasant aliens, a Shoggoth is like a huge glob of semi-sentient, malevolent jello.) We'll see how it goes, I guess.

The sinister way that Android devices constantly gather information about you, and send it back to the mother ship when you think the device is off (regardless of your privacy settings) is one of the reasons why I refuse to get a smart phone. Apple devices, of course, do the same thing. When someone documents this traffic with Wireshark or a similar tool and confronts them with it, they apologize and say that's unexpected behavior, and we'll look into it.

I only carry devices that I can take the battery out of, and use DuckDuckGo with Firefox for web access.

n.n said...

Searching or steering, that is the question.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

DNC owns the media, the major federal government agencies and the important social media companies. If you think they will take any action to reduce their own influence, you’re smoking some good shit.

Readering said...

IBM coda. Judge tried to reject dismissal. Mandamused. Same day in January, ATT consented to be broken up. Which company's shareholders benefitted more?

Yancey Ward said...

LOL at that last bit. Like Google doesn't have the Democratic Party in its wallet. There is a reason Google, Facebook, and Twitter are now allin on getting Biden elected.

Maillard Reactionary said...

Per bagoh20 @10:45, here's an interesting interview with a Google insider (probably soon-to-be ex-insider) about how they shade search results to favor Democrats.


Yancey Ward said...

Break the exclusive contracts. Break Youtube up, too. Make it ass-pounding prison time to collect and use user information of any kind. Make defamation an enforceable tort against these platforms that censor. Do the same with all the other social media platforms.

That would be a good outcome.

John henry said...

At the risk of sounding pedantic, Bing and Duck Duck Go work just fine for search. I mainly use DDG but have Bing as default on one of my devices just for comparison. I see no difference.

Some say Google works better but I've never seen it. Occasionally I will look for something on DDG or Bing with no luck. I will try Google to see if I find it there. I never do.

I've not used Google routinely for search for almost 20 years. Suits me just fine.

If you don't like it, don't use it. Or explain to me why it is any better than DDG/Bing.

And please everyone, stop saying "google" instead of "search" unless you are using Google. When you do, you give the impression that you use Google.

John Henry

John henry said...

Not Google anti trust per se but a peeve of mine about search.

Back in the early days there were some search engines that were directories rather than true search. Yahoo used to be one.

Search pharmacy and you would get a list of pharmacies with their websites and other info. Kind of like a global Yellow Pages.

Now I type pharmacy and I get a million pages, anything containing the word pharmacy. I can narrow it down with additional key words, plus signs, quote marks and so on but even that doesn't always work.

Does anyone know of a good directory style search engine?

John Henry

5M said...

Deny Big Tech the ability to use and track phone numbers.

tim in vermont said...

Here’s a good one, google “happy black woman” then “happy asian woman” then “happy white woman”

"If you don't like it, don't use it. Or explain to me why it is any better than DDG/Bing”

Recently somebody did a little article where they used a VPN to block their phone from connecting to google in any way and their phone stopped working. It’s not as easy as you think. Maybe you should read more about their anti-competitive practices before you opine. Also, try running a business without forking over to Google every month so that your leads don’t dry up. It’s like a private tax on the economy. The big brokerage houses used to have a deal like that, until one day they didn’t.

tim in vermont said...

I think it’s probably too late though. Google has gotten so big and powerful and wealthy enough to buy off any politician they want, or to pay to have them politically destroyed.

John henry said...

As I understand it the main charge against Google is that they monopolize search. How do they do this?

By undercutting prices? It's free
By better locations? It's ubiquitous, accessible from any device
by network effect? There is no network to be affected.

The only way they can compete with Bing, DDG and others is by offering what people perceive as a superior product. It matters not a whit whether it actually is a superior product. Only that users think it is.

Those who don't like it should use an alternative. It takes less than a minute to set another engine as the default search.

So they manipulate search results? Don't use it. So they collect your data? Don't use it.

Want to use it anyway? Don't complain to me about Google search. I'll laugh in your face.

Govt should leave Google search alone. Perhaps publicize that they manipulate the results in the interest of consumer disclosure. I'm not even sure that is is a a legitimate function of govt.

It would not hurt if PDJT made a bit of noise about it, though. Perhaps telling his supporters to use DDG instead of Google. "Google is not your friend, folks. DDG works as well."

I would not even mind govt making DDG or Bing the default search engine on all govt owned computers. PDJT could do that today by executive order. People who still like google would be able to use it, they would just have to type Google.com in the address bar first.

Ditto Chrome. This should NOT be allowed on any govt computer. It is spyware. For those who like Chrome, Dragon and Dissenter as well as some other use the identical software without phoning home to the mothership.

I use Dragon a lot and really like it. Except for not being able to download YouTube video.

I think this would go waaaaayyyy further at encouraging good behavior on Google's part than any lawsuit. It would only affect the govt at first but workers would start carrying their work habits home. Private usage of Google search and Chrome would decrease.

Advertisers would not get as many eyeballs, ad revenue would go down, and soon revenue would be more important than ideology.

John Henry

Scott M said...

Google's legal team said: "Today's lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to -- not because they're forced to or because they can't find alternatives."

This is almost exactly what AT&T's CEO tweeted in 1974 when Ma Bell went on the chopping block.

gilbar said...

So, since it can exercise such a huge amount of political power, I expect that the people running the government, will do WHATEVER google says, since it OWNS them

grog said...

Regarding Google's reach:
I use Firefox for most of my browsing, and have an Add-on called NoScript which allows me to screen the "behind the scenes" scripting that goes on in most web pages. One thing that I have noticed for some time is that I see at least one (and often more) Google-related script listed on the vast majority of web pages I view; it's actually rare that I find a web page that does not have a Google-related script. On this very page I see three Google scripts, google.com, google-analytics.com and googlesyndication.com. Another one that I often see (though not on Althouse) is googletagmanager.com. I usually block most scripts (including the Google-related scripts), though some must be turned on in order for the content to display properly.

Regarding search engines, I too use mostly DuckDuckGo, switching to Bing mostly for maps. The only time I use Google is when I want to read an article behind a firewall (particularly WSJ); when I search for the title of an WSJ article in Google, Google would provide a link that allowed me to view the full article. Haven't done that in a while so not sure it's still true. I do know that it did not work for DuckDuckGo or Bing.

Nonapod said...

If you don't like it, don't use it. Or explain to me why it is any better than DDG/Bing.

I think the meat of the complaint may have to do with having Google as the default search on all sorts of devices (phones, tablets, smart TVs ect). Basically on anything with Android or iOS the default search is going to be set to Google. Human nature being what it is, most people won't bother trying another search. This is the heart of the "monopolistic" argument I suspect.

Somewhat similarly (if I'm remembering correctly) back in the day the government took issue with Microsoft Windows having Internet Explorer as its default browser.

Anonymous said...

>AG's wanting to live in the Governor's mansion.

The modern version is "AG's wanting to funnel some Google $$ to their friends in the 'non-profit' sector."

Anonymous said...

>Break the exclusive contracts. Break Youtube up, too. Make it ass-pounding prison time to collect and use user information of any kind. Make defamation an enforceable tort against these platforms that censor. Do the same with all the other social media platforms.

To be honest, just limiting their ability to buy up other data sources will go a long way. Google probably buys a company every week (most too small to trigger public disclosure requirements).

One thing people don't realize is the degree to which Big-Tech has transitioned from being "innovation" organizations to being global sales/support organizations. Ditto with Big-Pharma.

jg said...

Google wins on speed and 'infobox' structured search results, but I have been enjoying the less-biased yippy.com (IBM/Watson) in spite of its 1/2 second response time; duckduckgo is at least as slow and the quality is lower. bing is somewhat in between google and yippy on the speed vs honesty/accuracy continuum.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Google's malfeasance has been pretty obvious to me for some time. For example, a couple of days ago I googled "debunking the left", a simple phrase which I'm sure the preternaturally perceptive algorithms employed by Google had no problem understanding. The results I got were page after page of The Left debunking the Trump administration. Page after page, and not a single one responding to the unambiguous meaning of my search terms. They don't even try to hide their manipulation. Google has squandered what good will they ever had.

bagoh20 said...

"Don't use it."

I don't believe that's even remotely possible. I don't use Google's browser, or search, but everywhere you want to go they load programming that tracks you anyway. With an enormous amount of expertise and time you might be able to get mostly free of them, but 99.9% of us never will regardless of what we want. That's why they can afford to always be the most competitive with low cost to you and enormous resources to maintain the extremely non-transparent yet ubiquitous control and spying.

Skippy Tisdale said...

Here’s a good one, google “happy black woman” then “happy asian woman” then “happy white woman”

Holy Fuck!