Google is no stranger to legal trouble, but 2020 may be bringing the most pressure the company has faced yet. The US Justice Department has been investigating Google's business practices for a while now, and we learned that a lawsuit was in the works last month. Today, the DOJ and eleven state attorneys filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of anticompetitive behavior to maintain its monopoly.
This historic civil suit is the government's largest legal challenge to a tech giant in recent memory. The 64-page lawsuit says that Google's actions have harmed competitors and consumers. Specifically, the DOJ is taking issue with the way Google puts its own products like Search front and center on mobile devices with exclusivity agreements that prevent pre-installation of competing services.
Also under scrutiny is the company's long-term agreement with Apple that requires Google to be the default search engine on apps like Safari. The lawsuit goes on to say there is an overarching problem of Google using its monopoly profits to buy "preferential treatment" for itself across devices, web browsers, and other search access points.
For its response, Google published a blog post calling the decisions "deeply flawed" and emphasizing that consumers can always choose to install and use competitors products if they so choose regardless of any exclusivity agreements that exist. Google also points out that it isn't the only company to pay for preferential treatment; Yahoo! and Microsoft's Bing engage in similar deals.
The lawsuit is likely to drag on for an extended amount of time, and could spark similar antitrust lawsuits from more states. Dozens of other states in the US have been investigating Google's alleged anticompetitive behavior on their own, including California earlier this summer. If successful, this could have far reaching consequences for Google. Maybe it's time to start shopping Chrome around to appease some of the DOJ's wrath?