WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — In a long-anticipated development, the Department of Justice filed suit against tech giant Google on Tuesday, in what many analysts believe is just the opening salvo in a battle pitting Washington, D.C. against Silicon Valley.
For years, lawmakers and consumer advocates have accused Google, whose parent company, Alphabet Inc, has a market value of over a trillion dollars, of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to crush competition.
In its 64-page complaint, the DOJ describes Google as ‘a scrappy startup’ that went on to become ‘a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet.’
Tech policy expert and attorney Carl Szabo of Washington’s NetChoice said it’s an allegation that may be destined for an early death in court.
“One of the things you need to know about anti-trust law is that it’s centered around the notion of consumer harm,” he said. “I’ve read all 64 pages of the complaint, and there is not one piece of consumer harm being cited.”
The company’s response came in a lengthy blog post, in which Google called the action “a deeply flawed lawsuit that would do nothing to help consumers.”
Observers note that the 11 state attorneys general who have signed on to the suit all hail from red states, and while some call this a purely political move by the Trump administration, NewsNation caught up with Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren on Capitol Hill, who said she supports the government’s action.
“Attorney General Barr has done nothing but play politics from his office— and he should not be the Attorney General,” she said. “But I’ve made it clear that these giant tech companies that are engaged in anti-competitive practices and monopolistic practices should be broken up.”
Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen didn’t go that far as he briefed reporters Tuesday morning.
“Google achieved some success in its early years,” he said, “and no one begrudges that. But as the anti-trust complaint filed today explains, it has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that are harmful to competition.”
Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley has been an extremely vocal critic of Big Tech, taking aim in recent weeks at the actions of social media giants Facebook and Twitter as well as Google. In a statement, he called the lawsuit “The most important antitrust case in a generation. Google and its fellow big tech monopolists exercise unprecedented power over the lives of ordinary Americans,” Hawley said, “controlling everything from the news we read to the security of our most personal information.”
It’s an opinion many legal observers do not share, even as 7 additional states weigh whether to sign on to the lawsuit, filed with just two weeks remaining until Election Day.
Google’s stock barely moved on the news, ending the day up nearly 1 1/2%.