October 21, 2020

DOJ Slaps Google With Antitrust Lawsuit

Rare bipartisan support arises among Congress to go after Big Tech.

The Department of Justice leveled an anti-trust lawsuit against tech giant Google on Tuesday, alleging that it has engaged in monopolistic behavior with its Internet search and advertising business. “Google has frozen out competitors through contracts between the tech giant and browsers, carriers, and mobile phone manufactures that give Google such prime standing as the default search engine across a variety of platforms as to bar any competitors from beginning to compete with the tech giant,” reports The Daily Wire. “Google search queries make up roughly 80% of all those in the U.S.”

After more than a year of investigating, DOJ officials have determined there was enough evidence to go after the tech behemoth over antitrust violations. However, despite Google’s near-complete dominance of the industry, it won’t be an easy case for the DOJ to make.

The main problem arises from the fact that Google does not prevent or even make it difficult for users to chose other companies’ platforms. As The Wall Street Journal editorial board notes, “Consumers can easily download other browsers and search engines if they don’t like Google’s, unlike in the 1990s when they had to buy special software or jump through hoops to use an alternative to Microsoft’s. Now most general search engines and web browsers are free. Microsoft’s Bing even pays consumers rewards for using it. Where is the consumer harm?”

Indeed, Google SVP of Global Affairs Kent Walker responded to the DOJ lawsuit by arguing, “This isn’t the dial-up 1990s when you needed to purchase a CD-ROM from a store to access alternative services or wait forever for a 28.8 bps modem. Today, you can easily choose your own search engine or download an app in a matter of seconds. The DOJ is wrongly claiming Americans aren’t sophisticated enough to do this.”

Furthermore, the antitrust lawsuit doesn’t actually get at the heart of what bothers most Americans and especially conservatives about Google. It’s Google’s increasing and blatantly political censorship practices that has conservatives up in arms, as they condemn the tech giant for violating Americans’ free speech and privacy rights.

That is clearly what concerns Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), who backs the DOJ’s action. “Google and its fellow Big Tech monopolists exercise unprecedented power over the lives of ordinary Americans, controlling everything from the news we read to the security of our most personal information,” Hawley said. “And Google in particular has gathered and maintained that power through illegal means. That is why I launched a sweeping antitrust investigation of Google when I was Missouri Attorney General, and that’s why I stand behind the Department of Justice’s actions today.” However, Hawley was quick to add, “But to be clear — this is just a first step, and I will continue to fight for the legislative solutions needed to end the tyranny of Big Tech.”

Interestingly, it’s not just Republicans celebrating the DOJ’s actions. None other than House Judiciary Committee Chairman (and one of President Donald Trump’s biggest opponents) Jerry Nadler (D-NY) praised the announcement. “There is bipartisan agreement in Congress and among federal and state antitrust enforcers that protecting competition and innovation online is essential to our economy,” stated Nadler. “Today’s antitrust lawsuit against Google is an important step for ensuring a competitive online space.”

Well, as C&C Music Factory sang, “Things that make you go hmmmm…” Why would Democrats like Nadler, who have benefited immensely from Big Tech’s suppression of conservative views, jump on board an antitrust lawsuit? The answer likely lies in the opportunity to assert greater government control via regulations on the industry. Picture Big Business working with Big Government to craft just the right regulations.

Finally, Mark Alexander contends that the actual solution isn’t via the antitrust lawsuit route. Instead, he says, “If Congress is serious about curbing the unmitigated power of social and search media platforms to influence elections, it must start with their unmitigated violation of user privacy. Congress has the authority to protect consumer privacy through legislation, and in the case of Facebook, Google and other aggregators of private data (which should be classified as private property), that legislation should include explicit conditions regarding the collection and dissemination of such data. Congress should enact legislation requiring that social media and other aggregators of individual data be required to obtain specific and explicit user permissions for each and every collection and transfer of such data, prior to such collection or transfer. Violations of those conditions warrant enormously expensive fines.”

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