CLOSINGS: View Closings

Federal government files antitrust lawsuit against Google

FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2019, file photo a sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif. The Justice Department is expected to file a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that Google has been abusing its online dominance in online searc
FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2019, file photo a sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif. The Justice Department is expected to file a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that Google has been abusing its online dominance in online searc

Accuses it of abusing its monopoly power on the internet.

Posted: Oct 20, 2020 12:14 PM
Updated: Oct 20, 2020 4:01 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Tuesday sued Google for abusing its dominance in online search and advertising — the government’s most significant attempt to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago.

And it could just be an opening salvo. Other major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook are under investigation at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

“Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth," U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen told reporters. “It has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition.”

Lawmakers and consumer advocates have long accused Google of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising. The case filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., alleges that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisers to pay phone manufacturers to ensure Google is the default search engine on browsers. That stifles competition and innovation from smaller upstart rivals to Google and harms consumers by reducing the quality of search and limiting privacy protections and alternative search options, the government alleges.

Critics contend that multibillion-dollar fines and mandated changes in Google’s practices imposed by European regulators in recent years weren’t severe enough and that structural changes are needed for Google to change its conduct. The Justice Department didn't lay out specific remedies, although it asked the court to order structural relief “as needed to remedy any anticompetitive harm.”

That opens the door to possible fundamental changes such as a spinoff of the company’s Chrome browser.

Google vowed to defend itself and responded immediately via tweet: “Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to -- not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”

Eleven states, all with Republican attorneys general, joined the federal government in the lawsuit. But several other states demurred.

The attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah released a statement Monday saying they have not concluded their investigation into Google and would want to consolidate their case with the DOJ’s if they decided to file. “It’s a bipartisan statement,” said spokesman Fabien Levy of the New York State attorney general’s office. “There’s things that still need to be fleshed out, basically,”

President Donald Trump's administration has long had Google in its sights. One of Trump's top economic advisers said two years ago that the White House was considering whether Google searches should be subject to government regulation. Trump has often criticized Google, recycling unfounded claims by conservatives that the search giant is biased against conservatives and suppresses their viewpoints.

Rosen told reporters that allegations of anti-conservative bias are “a totally separate set of concerns” from the issue of competition.

Sally Hubbard, an antitrust expert who runs enforcement strategy at the Open Markets Institute, said it was a welcome surprise to see the Justice Department's openness to the possibility of structurally breaking up Google, and not just imposing conditions on its behavior as has happened in Europe.

“Traditionally, Republicans are hesitant to speak of breakups,” she said. “Personally, I’ll be very disappointed if I see a settlement. Google has shown it won’t adhere to any behavioral conditions.”

The argument for reining in Google has gathered force as the company stretched far beyond its 1998 roots as a search engine governed by the motto “Don’t Be Evil.” It’s since grown into a diversified goliath with online tentacles that scoop up personal data from billions of people via services ranging from search, video and maps to smartphone software. That data helps feed the advertising machine that has turned Google into a behemoth.

The company owns the leading web browser in Chrome, the world’s largest smartphone operating system in Android, the top video site in YouTube and the most popular digital mapping system. Some critics have singled out YouTube and Android as among Google businesses that should be considered for divestiture.

Google, whose corporate parent Alphabet Inc. has a market value just over $1 trillion, controls about 90% of global web searches. Barring a settlement, a trial would likely begin late next year or in 2022.

The company, based in Mountain View, California, argues that although its businesses are large, they are useful and beneficial to consumers. It maintains that its services face ample competition and have unleashed innovations that help people manage their lives.

Most of Google's services are offered for free in exchange for personal information that helps it sell its ads.

In a Tuesday presentation with a handful of reporters, Google argued that its services have helped hold down the prices of smartphones and that consumers can easily switch away from services like Google Search even if it's the default option on smartphones and in some internet browsers.

A recent report from a House Judiciary subcommittee concluded that Google has monopoly power in the market for search. It said the company established its position in several markets through acquisition, snapping up successful technologies that other businesses had developed — buying an estimated 260 companies in 20 years.

The Democratic congressman who led that investigation called Tuesday’s action “long overdue.”

“It is critical that the Justice Department’s lawsuit focuses on Google’s monopolization of search and search advertising, while also targeting the anticompetitive business practices Google is using to leverage this monopoly into other areas, such as maps, browsers, video, and voice assistants,” Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a statement.

Columbia Law professor Tim Wu called the suit almost a carbon copy of the government's 1998 lawsuit against Microsoft. He said via email that the U.S. government has a decent chance of winning. “However, the likely remedies — i.e., knock it off, no more making Google the default — are not particularly likely to transform the broader tech ecosystem.”

Other advocates, however, said the Justice Department's timing — it's only two weeks to Election Day — smacked of politics. The government's “narrow focus and alienation of the bipartisan state attorneys general is evidence of an unserious approach driven by politics and is likely to result in nothing more than a choreographed slap on the wrist for Google,” Alex Harman, a competition policy advocate at Public Citizen, said in a statement.

Republicans and Democrats have accelerated their criticism of Big Tech in recent months, although sometimes for different reasons. It’s unclear what the status of the government’s suit against Google would be if a Joe Biden administration were to take over next year.

The Justice Department sought support for its suit from states across the country that share concerns about Google’s conduct. A bipartisan coalition of 50 U.S. states and territories, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, announced a year ago they were investigating Google’s business practices, citing “potential monopolistic behavior.”

Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas joined the Justice Department lawsuit.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 289303

Reported Deaths: 3434
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin616511100
Ramsey25903487
Anoka20522218
Dakota20096183
Washington13066109
Stearns1291098
St. Louis7935101
Scott782754
Wright702436
Olmsted626134
Sherburne538640
Clay463856
Carver432213
Blue Earth387112
Rice386033
Kandiyohi373819
Crow Wing334631
Nobles298729
Chisago29358
Otter Tail282818
Benton278642
Winona258128
Mower241323
Douglas237631
Polk234423
Morrison219524
Lyon201911
McLeod195610
Beltrami194615
Becker187512
Goodhue185727
Steele17826
Itasca176124
Isanti174316
Todd171612
Carlton165710
Nicollet150823
Freeborn14465
Mille Lacs141630
Le Sueur138110
Waseca134011
Cass12849
Brown125011
Pine12458
Meeker11308
Roseau10503
Hubbard103822
Martin101920
Wabasha9611
Redwood83718
Dodge8060
Chippewa8057
Watonwan7984
Cottonwood7682
Renville75119
Sibley7414
Wadena7376
Aitkin69826
Rock6829
Pipestone67818
Houston6422
Fillmore6320
Yellow Medicine59311
Pennington5856
Kanabec54912
Murray5493
Swift5366
Faribault5081
Pope4990
Stevens4643
Clearwater4536
Marshall4438
Jackson4361
Unassigned38759
Lake3816
Koochiching3535
Wilkin3465
Lac qui Parle3383
Norman3227
Lincoln3171
Big Stone2841
Mahnomen2704
Grant2516
Red Lake2033
Kittson1917
Traverse1360
Lake of the Woods931
Cook600

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 220032

Reported Deaths: 2282
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk32695327
Linn13801164
Scott1068881
Black Hawk10631132
Woodbury10061120
Johnson932336
Dubuque904191
Story666620
Dallas619957
Pottawattamie602967
Sioux362025
Webster348432
Marshall342044
Cerro Gordo340644
Clinton315939
Buena Vista297914
Des Moines278218
Muscatine278268
Warren270510
Plymouth265639
Wapello248671
Jones226913
Jasper210942
Marion200019
Lee195416
Carroll194621
Bremer188712
Henry17917
Crawford172015
Benton165116
Tama151540
Jackson140712
Delaware139621
Washington136914
Boone132911
Dickinson132710
Mahaska124127
Wright11986
Buchanan114110
Clay11184
Hardin111310
Page11074
Clayton10665
Hamilton10657
Harrison104328
Cedar103913
Calhoun10387
Fayette10149
Floyd100914
Mills10097
Kossuth10076
Lyon9988
Poweshiek97113
Butler9566
Winneshiek93311
Iowa91712
Winnebago89723
Hancock8417
Louisa83616
Grundy82611
Sac8207
Chickasaw8174
Cherokee7984
Cass78821
Mitchell7664
Appanoose76510
Allamakee76411
Shelby7469
Humboldt7435
Union7396
Emmet73624
Guthrie73015
Franklin71221
Jefferson6742
Madison6684
Palo Alto6244
Unassigned6170
Keokuk5647
Pocahontas5512
Howard5319
Greene5140
Osceola5101
Clarke4764
Ida46411
Taylor4513
Montgomery44610
Davis4455
Monroe43712
Adair4258
Monona4182
Fremont3523
Van Buren3524
Worth3470
Lucas3206
Decatur3120
Wayne2936
Audubon2922
Ringgold1982
Adams1612
Rochester
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 21°
Mason City
Overcast
31° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 23°
Albert Lea
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 27°
Austin
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 27°
Charles City
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 26°
Sunshine Returns for Friday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

SMACK Helps Pass Along Positivity This Holiday Season

Image

Aaron's Thanksgiving Night Forecast

Image

Passing along positive notes this Thanksgiving

Image

Serving up Thanksgiving to-go

Image

Salvation Army opens its doors for Thanksgiving

Image

Canadian Honker busy with Thanksgiving takeout orders

Image

Staying home and staying safe for Thanksgiving

Image

Brightening Up A Unquie Thanksgiving

Image

Immanual Luthern Church Serves 350 Meals

Image

Chez Bojji Gives Back On Thanksgiving

Community Events