Google is about to fight the first serious antitrust battle of the 21st century. Beginning this week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) will argue in federal court that Google engaged in anticompetitive practices to maintain its status as the most popular search engine in the world.
The claim, being put before Obama appointee Judge Amit P. Mehta, is that Google wrongfully entered into exclusivity agreements with smartphone manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung, to preinstall its search engine as the default option on their device web browsers.
Stephen Kent, Media Director for the Consumer Choice Center, an international consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., said of the DOJ’s case, “Antitrust cases like this are predicated on the false assumption that consumers have been duped into using a product, even when that product is broadly accepted as the gold standard for its industry. This is a waste of time for our court system.”
The lawsuit was originally brought in October 2020 by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, during the final months of the Trump administration. The suit contends that Google has illegally kept the public from easy access to Microsoft’s Bing, Mozilla, and DuckDuckGo for online searches. If Judge Mehta agrees, Google could be forced to restructure.
Default search engine deals are commonplace in the development of web browsers. Consumers enjoy ready-to-use products and expect a quality experience. That’s why Mozilla canceled its deal with Yahoo in 2017 for a default search arrangement, reinstating Google Search. So many consumers were switching manually, Mozilla responded in an effort to protect their own brand.
The Consumer Choice Center stands against this politicized attack by the Department of Justice on Google. Mobile device manufacturers want consumers to have a top-notch experience when using their product, and presetting Google as the search engine is within their right. “I’ve used DuckDuckGo on my iPhone now for several years, and even now it takes just four clicks to switch back to Google, Bing or Yahoo,” Kent continued, “This suit is about distracting Google from its core business, bogging them down to prevent further growth, and making an example of a major tech company for political points at a time of bipartisan skepticism of the tech sector. This does nothing to improve consumer welfare, and will harm future innovation that consumers demand.”