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Landmark Antitrust Trial Against Google Begins

U.S. v Google, arguably the biggest antitrust case since the one brought against Microsoft in 2001, begins today.

The case, brought by the Department of Justice and several states against Google, alleges that the tech giant maintains an illegal search monopoly through agreements with smartphone manufacturers and web browsers.

These deals allow Google to be the default search engine on the vast majority of smartphones and web browsers used in the U.S, contributing to Google search’s overwhelming 90 percent market share. Google’s agreements with Android-based phone manufacturers forbid them from pre-installing competing search engines if they want to have a cut of Google search revenue.

Additionally, Google pays Apple $20 billion annually to be the default search engine on its Safari browsers, which come pre-installed on iPhones and Apple computers.

Google argues that consumers are still able to easily download other search engines on their phones, or adjust a browser’s search engine through settings.

Should the government win its case, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta has a number of options to penalize the tech giant, ranging from restrictions on its ability to cut deals with other tech companies to advance its search monopoly, to a full breakup of the company. Should Google lose at trial, a second trial will take place to determine the appropriate action to take.

In addition to harming its competitors in the search market, the government argues that Google’s search monopoly allows it to maintain its position without improving its product, as well as inflate ad prices on search.

It is expected that top executives from Google, including CEO Sundar Pichai, will be called to testify. Other potential witnesses include Apple executive Eddy Cue, and representatives of competing search engines such as DuckDuckGo and Microsoft’s Bing.

The case is United States v. Google, 1:20-cv-03010 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

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