Oct 20, 2020 - Technology

Google calls antitrust case "deeply flawed"

Photo of Google CEO Sundar Pichai in a suit at a desk speaking in a videoconference
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee last July. Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Google says the Justice Department's lawsuit alleging competitive abuses is "deeply flawed" and would fail to help consumers.

Driving the news: The Justice Department and 11 states Tuesday filed an antitrust case against Google, accusing the company of using anticompetitive tactics to illegally monopolize the online search and search advertising markets.

Why it matters: Google's initial response to the charges — arguing that the DOJ's claims have no merit and no basis in current antitrust law — offers a preview of how the company will argue its case as the suit proceeds in the D.C. federal district court.

What they're saying: The DOJ's suit would not help consumers and instead just prop up lower-quality search engines, Google officials said in a call with reporters Tuesday and also in a blog post.

  • Google competes with many other software and information providers — like Tripadvisor, Yelp, Firefox and Safari — and the digital advertising market is competitive, officials argued.
  • The lawsuit doesn't actually describe the consumer harm it is alleging, Google says — pointing to what's sure to be a hotly contested issue as the lawsuit unfolds.
  • Google's contracts with phone carriers to feature Google Search are not exclusionary, as the Justice Department charges, but rather are common in the industry, company officials argued. They also said it's easy for mobile device users to switch to another search engine.
  • Google argues that its Android mobile operating system is flexible and available free for phone makers and carriers, and that many apps that aren't preloaded on phones go on to become very popular.

What's next: It's too soon to tell exactly what Google's next legal steps will be, officials said on the call. But Google expects a period of pretrial discovery and might file pretrial motions challenging the government's claims.

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