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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Smartphone users choose Google as their search engine because they prefer it, not because Google's deals with phone makers set it as a default, the search giant said in its first formal response to the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit charging monopolistic abuses.

The big picture: The response offers Google's point-by-point rebuttal of the government's charges and asks the court to dismiss the suit, with the government reimbursing the company for its legal costs. The presiding judge has said a trial likely won't start until 2023.

  • The Justice Department lawsuit accuses Google of using agreements with companies like Apple, Samsung and LG to lock in its dominance on phones, which regulators argue keeps rivals like DuckDuckGo and Bing from gaining footholds in the market.

What they're saying:

  • Google denies any suggestion that its deals with phone makers violate antitrust laws.
  • "Any and all of Google's actions alleged by Plaintiffs were lawful, justified, pro-competitive and carried out in Google's legitimate business interests and constitute bonafide competitive activity," the response reads.

The big picture: Google is also fighting off two other antitrust lawsuits from state attorneys general — one from a group, led by Texas, that argues Google has an unfair monopoly on online advertising, and another from a group of states including Colorado and Nebraska that charges Google with anti-competitive search practices.

Read the filing:

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.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution could bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.