Trump administration is expected to sue Google on October 20, in what is deemed to be the most massive antitrust case against a tech company in more than 20 years, is according to two people familiar with the matter.
Trump Administration to Sue Google
In the complaint, the Justice Department is expected to make allegations that the search engine Google has stifled competition to maintain its powerful position in the marketplace for an online search.
The federal complaint follows an antitrust probe by DOJ investigators for the past year; it comes on the heels of a congressional report finding that Google and other tech companies use their power and wielded dominance in anticompetitive ways.
The report states that Amazon allegedly mistreated third-party sellers, that Apple's app store fees and polities are anticompetitive and that Facebook has sought to remove future rivals through targeted acquisitions.
According to the Justice Department, they expected that the lawsuit against Google could mark the US government's consequential step to hold Silicon Valley into account when Washington took a dramatic turn against the tech industry. Evidence followed that social media platforms were manipulated by foreign election meddling efforts in 2016.
Since then, the executives of major tech platforms have been hauled before Congress to face numerous questions about their responsibilities toward hateful content, political speech, misinformation, small businesses, and local journalism and competition.
The case could be an unprecedented risk to Google's wider advertising business, which brought in at least $134.8 billion in revenue in 2019, which accounted for 84% of its total business.
Other tech companies could face similar lawsuits as the Justice Department prepares to take Google to court over antitrust concerns. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Facebook since last year, and the investigation could culminate its own litigation.
The lawsuit against Google symbolizes criticism against historic corporate concentration levels and economic inequality in the United States.
William Kovacic, the former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, told CNN that the most important tech industry monopolization case before the lawsuits against Google was the lawsuit against Microsoft in 1998.
During that case against Microsoft, the US government alleged Microsoft broke the law by bundling Internet Explorer, its browser, with every copy of Windows, to the detriment of competition among browser makers. After years of litigation, Microsoft and the government reached a settlement that eventually imposed limits on Microsoft's software business.
The New York Times reported that Attorney General William Barr had taken a personal interest in the investigation and the resulting lawsuit.
After Makan Delrahim, the head of DOJ's antitrust division recused himself over having previously represented Google in private practice, Barr assigned senior staffers in his office to oversee the probe.
Barr has pushed for an aggressive timeline for filing a suit. Aside from Barr, President Donald Trump will also be hanging over the case. President Trump has been vocal in his criticism of tech platforms.
The president has repeatedly blasted Google, Facebook, and Twitter for allegedly systematically censoring conservative views. The companies have repeatedly denied the claim, and experts have found no evidence supporting the president's claim. In 2019, Trump told Fox Business that they would be suing Facebook and Google.