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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.

Go deeper

Jan 25, 2021 - Technology

Google says it may have found a privacy-friendly substitute to cookies

Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Google on Monday said new test results show promising signs that the technology it's hoping will replace cookie-based ad targeting is working.

Why it matters: Google and web browser rivals Apple and Mozilla have all introduced sweeping privacy changes recently that will collectively phase out cookies, an internet tracking tool that tracks users' web browsing history.

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says an unidentified group of extremists discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

37 mins ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.