Google breakup may be needed to end violations of antitrust law: United States

Vastavam web: The U.S. sued Google on Tuesday, accusing the $1 trillion company of illegally using its market muscle to hobble rivals in the biggest challenge to the power and influence of Big Tech in decades. The Justice Department lawsuit could lead to the break-up of an iconic company that has become all but synonymous with the internet and assumed a central role in the day-to-day lives of billions of people around the globe.

The lawsuit marks the first time the U.S. has cracked down on a major tech company since it sued Microsoft Corp MSFT.O for anti-competitive practices in 1998. A settlement left the company intact, though the government’s prior foray into Big Tech anti-trust – the 1974 case against AT&T – led to the breakup of the Bell System. The government said Google has nearly 90% of all general search engine queries in the United States and almost 95% of searches on mobile.

Attorney General Bill Barr said his investigators had found Google does not compete on the quality of its search results but instead bought its success through payments to mobile phone makers and others. “The end result is that no one can feasibly challenge Google’s dominance in search and search advertising,” Barr said. In its complaint, the Justice Department said that Americans were hurt by Google’s actions. In its “request for relief,” it said it was seeking “structural relief as needed to cure any anti-competitive harm.” “Structural relief” in antitrust matters generally means the sale of an asset. Google called the lawsuit “deeply flawed,” adding that people “use Google because they choose to – not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”