The U.S. Department of Justice accuses Google Tuesday of using its internet search engine to push out competitors and limit new ideas.
Kenneth Dintzer is the Justice Department’s lead lawyer. He said, “This case is about the future of the internet and whether Google’s search engine will ever face meaningful competition.”
Over the next 10 weeks, federal lawyers and state attorneys general will try to prove that Google unfairly controls the market in its favor by making its search engine the first choice in software and on devices that people use every day.
The case is similar to the antitrust trial brought against computer software maker Microsoft in 1998. At that time, the government accused Microsoft of using its strength in software to force computer makers to use its other products, including the Internet Explorer web browser. The case ended with restrictions to prevent Microsoft from having total control of the marketplace.
Many Google products including the Chrome web browser, Gmail, YouTube, and online maps are extremely popular. But none have controlled the market and become as valuable as its internet search engine.
The government accuses Google of paying billions of dollars yearly to make its search engine the first choice on the iPhone and web browsers such as Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox. The legal action notes that Google also requires its search engine to be a part of the Android operating system used by smartphones of many manufacturers.
Dintzer said, “This is Google saying: Take it or leave it.” He said that Google’s moves prevented Apple from developing a search engine of its own.
Google argues that it faces many competitors although it controls about 90 percent of the internet search market. The company says it faces competition from search engines such as Microsoft’s Bing and DuckDuckGo and websites like Amazon and Yelp. These websites let users ask questions about what to buy or where to go.
The company also argues that it faces competition from new technology like artificial intelligence (AI). Microsoft, for example, is adding AI abilities from its partner Open AI to its Bing search engine. That move in early February forced Goggle to equip its search engine with results that come from AI-aided processes.
Google says users can always use any other search engine. But continuous improvements to its search engine are the reason why users keep coming back. It is a process that made the name Google synonymous with looking things up on the internet.
However, critics say the quality of search results has decreased. They note that Google uses its engine to sell advertisements. The company brings attention to its products over those of competitors.
Today, the stock market value of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is $1.7 trillion. The company employs 182,000 people. Most of the money Google makes comes from $224 billion in yearly ad sales. The sales come through a network of digital services that are linked by the search engine, which answers billions of requests a day.
I’m Caty Weaver.