REMOVES REFERENCES TO REPORTS, ADDS ATTORNEY GENERAL STATEMENT IN GRAFS 5-6, GOOGLE STATEMENT IN GRAFS 8-10, EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Ovunc Kutlu
ANKARA (AA) – The US Department of Justice and 11 states filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google on allegations it uses an illegal monopoly on internet searches to thwart competition.
The suit accuses the Silicon Valley company of allegedly harming consumers through its monopoly.
Google, which controls around 90% of global internet searches. will also face charges for abusing its dominance and therefore allegedly harming consumers.
The lawsuit includes allegations that Google paid billions of dollars to mobile phone manufacturers to allow its Chrome browser to be used as a default search engine on smartphones.
Lawmakers and consumers have long criticized Google and its parent company, Alphabet, for data mining, a practice that involves helping other companies tailor specific online advertisements to users based on individuals' interests, visited websites and online purchases.
Attorney General William Barr said a review of tech companies he initiated in July 2019 produced "convincing evidence that Google no longer competes only on the merits but instead uses its monopoly power – and billions in monopoly profits – to lock up key pathways to search on mobile phones, browsers, and next generation devices, depriving rivals of distribution and scale."
"The end result is that no one can feasibly challenge Google’s dominance in search and search advertising," he said. "This lack of competition harms users, advertisers, and small businesses in the form of fewer choices, reduced quality (including on metrics like privacy), higher advertising prices, and less innovation."
While the lawsuit could be a milestone to protect competition in the US since a similar antitrust case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago, it could also open the door for more lawsuits against major tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook and Apple.
Google quickly responded to the lawsuit, saying it is "deeply flawed" and maintaining it "would do nothing to help consumers."
"To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use," Kent Walker, Google's Senior Vice President for Global Affairs said in a blog post.
"People don’t use Google because they have to, they use it because they choose to," he added.
Google stock was up more than 2% in late-day trading.
*Michael Hernandez contributed to this report from Washington