Tech Roundup: As Antitrust Cases Spread, Google Faces World of Trouble
To say that Google is facing a world of trouble would not be an overstatement these days, as the tech giant is facing antitrust probes around the country and the globe.
The latest salvo came on Tuesday (Oct. 20), when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and 11 state attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuit in Washington, D.C. against the world’s most-used internet search engine, alleging that it has unfairly used its dominant position against competitors.
Below is a roundup of some of the antitrust battles that Google is facing around the world.
The US vs. Google
After more than a year-long probe of Google’s dominance in the search and advertising markets where it commands an 80 percent domestic market share, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the tech giant, which could prove to be the largest antitrust suit in history.
The 57-page complaint alleges that Google protected its continued search and search advertising monopolies by taking part in anticompetitive activities.
Attorney General William Barr said in a statement that millions of Americans rely on the internet and online platforms, making competition in the industry vital. He called the challenge against Google for allegedly violating antitrust laws “a monumental case both for the DOJ and for the American people.”
For its part, Google released a statement calling the suit “deeply flawed,” saying “people use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
With 11 states already taking part in the suit and several others pursuing their own actions, the dispute is expected to expand as the proceedings move forward.
China vs. Google
Google is also facing a potential antitrust probe in China, which is looking to see if the California-based company used its Android mobile operating system to suppress competition in the world’s largest country by population (and second-largest by GDP).
While a decision on whether China will go forward with the case could be announced any time now, geopolitical experts point out that this investigation has as much to do with the present state of U.S.-China relations as it does with the situation on the ground.
Tensions between the two countries have intensified in recent months amid an attempted crackdown by the Trump administration on Chinese tech companies like Huawei and ByteDance (parent of video-sharing social media app TikTok).
The potential antitrust case now being weighed by authorities in China was first proposed by Huawei last year.
Europe vs. Europe
In the European Union, the web search leader and several other Big Techs are reportedly facing antitrust inquiries and the threat of inclusion on a “hit list” of targeted tech companies.
EU regulators are reportedly creating a list of approximately 20 firms that they want to hit with stricter regulations over competition and other operational activities. The new regulations would potentially reshape the manner in which these companies collect and harness information.
At the same time, Google is facing Europe Union antitrust scrutiny over its proposed $2.1 billion acquisition of Fitbit. In particular, regulators have concerns that the deal would boost the amount of personal health data the combined companies would hold.
Japan vs. Google
Kazuyuki Furuya, the new chairman of Japan’s Fair Trade Commission, said on Monday (Oct. 19) that he is teaming up with his U.S. and European counterparts to develop tough new regulations to take on Google and other Big Techs.
In addition, Furuya said he is closely watching developments in Europe concerning Fitbit, and pointed out that the Tokyo-based trade regulator could launch an anti-monopoly investigation into any large deals or collaborations that it felt would hamper competition.
“This is an area I will push through aggressively,” he said.
Canada vs. Google
While not specifically related to competition, Canada’s governing Liberal Party last month renewed calls to legislate the way Google and other Big Tech platforms pay media producers for copyrighted content.
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., U.S.-based tech firms such as Facebook and Google have funneled advertising revenues away from Canada’s struggling news organizations while not paying the outlets for their copyrighted content.