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Current Affairs

US sues Google for anti-trust

Date: 23 October 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) sued Google, alleging that the company had abused its dominant position in a way that had harmed its competitors as well as customers.

 

Background

Eleven US states have joined the DoJ in the anti-trust lawsuit against Google for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in general search services and search advertising.

 

Details

  • The main concerns are business practices that may have led to massive concentrations of economic power in a few companies such as Google. 

  • Earlier this month, a US House of Representatives panel submitted the report of a bipartisan investigation into the working of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.

  • These companies have been on the radar of governments in many countries for being big spenders and trying to steamroll competition by either buying out their rivals or pushing vendors to avoid working with these rivals. 

  • The report called for the big technology companies to be broken up and for a presumptive prohibition against future mergers and acquisitions by the dominant platform.

  • The challenge for Google would be continued scrutiny into its biggest revenue generating segment, which is advertising gained from its search engine and affiliate websites.

  • Apart from increased federal scrutiny, big tech companies are also likely to face more questions and probes from states in the US, which have in the recent past hauled these firms up for not doing more to control their influence on day-to-day aspects of life.

  • Over the last three years, Google has had multiple run-ins with the CCI for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the search engine market, the Android smartphone and television market, as well as the Google Flights service.

  • In 2019, India’s antitrust body had held Google guilty of misuse of its dominant position in the mobile Android market and said the company had imposed unfair conditions on device manufacturers to prevent them from using other operating systems.

  • Google has challenged the CCI findings in forums such as the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal and the Supreme Court.

  • Although the lawsuit is the first of its kind, it is unlikely that there will be any swift action on the company in the near term.