The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, claiming the tech giant has illegally preserved monopolies in "general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising," according to the suit.
Attorneys general from 11 states — including Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas, Montana, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, and Kentucky — have joined the trust as plaintiffs. All the AGs of these states are Republicans.
The department has been investigating Google for more than a year. A prior antitrust investigation in 2013 closed with no suit filed, although a document from that investigation showed that some DOJ employees supported a case. In addition, 49 states have investigated or are investigating Google. Alabama is the only state that has not.
Reportedly, some of the 49 attorneys general, mostly ones who are Democrats, have disagreed with the U.S. Dept. of Justice on how to pursue antitrust charges against Google.
Google has bought numerous other companies in the online marketing space, including a company called DoubleClick and the world's largest online video platform, YouTube. The company also owns technology that is used to purchase and support ads on the sites it owns. In the case of YouTube, only Google-owned technology can be used to facilitate advertisements.
The Department of Justice also alleges that Google has revenue sharing agreements with players in the mobile phone industry to feature its search engine as the default one on phones, a move the government says is illegal. Phones that use the Android operating system (which is owned by Google parent company Alphabet) come with Google installed as the default search engine, and it cannot be deleted. Many other phones also feature Google as the default.
Google has previously said it is the dominant player in online search and search advertising because consumers choose its products and that companies of all sizes compete better in their own markets thanks to the use of Google services. Eighty percent of online searches in the United States go through search distribution channels under Google's control or ownership, the Wall Street Journal reports.
🔦 The last time the DOJ filed an antitrust suit against a major tech company was 1998, when the government brought a suit against Microsoft.