(US) – The US government is taking on tech titan Google in a high-stakes trial that alleges the company unfairly solidified its position as the world’s leading search engine.
The case, which began on Tuesday, contends that Google used multi-billion-dollar payments to phone manufacturers like Apple and web browsers like Mozilla to secure its place as the default search engine.
Prosecutors argue that these deals granted Google an insurmountable data advantage and blocked potential rivals, violating US competition laws.
The lawsuit, initiated in the final days of the Trump administration in 2020, is viewed as a landmark case and a significant challenge to the tech industry’s operations.
It also represents a critical test of the US government’s ability to regulate the industry.
Sundar Pichai and Apple execs to testify in Google trial
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is expected to testify during the 10-week trial, along with executives from Apple.
Some experts draw parallels between this case and the 1998 suit against Microsoft, which led to a ruling that Microsoft had maintained a monopoly over operating systems through anti-competitive tactics.
A government victory in this case could result in Google no longer being automatically installed as the default search engine, potentially opening doors for rivals like Microsoft’s Bing.
Such a change would offer consumers more choices.
However, Google has defended its practices, contending that its agreements with manufacturers are akin to negotiations between food producers and supermarkets regarding product placement, which courts have traditionally deemed legal.
Google argues that it provides a superior product, and the government will face challenges proving harm to consumers, the traditional standard for illegal monopoly power in the US.
The outcome of this case is eagerly awaited as it could reshape the tech industry’s landscape. In recent court battles involving tech firms, the government has faced setbacks, leading to criticism from some quarters.
Although the government has acknowledged that it may incur losses in some cases, regulators see these lawsuits as necessary steps in the ongoing fight against monopolistic practices.
While these legal battles may slow down tech giants, some experts caution that they may not fully address the complex questions, such as data control and the impact of artificial intelligence, that will shape the industry’s future.
Despite the uncertain outcomes, anti-monopoly campaigners and experts observe a shift in the public discourse and legal landscape surrounding big tech companies, signaling a potential turning point in the regulation of these powerful entities.