It just launched new products and services today but next week might have a different atmosphere over at Google HQ. Although it has long been accused of anti-competitive practices in many countries around the world, Google has yet to face a formal lawsuit that could truly shake and shape its search and advertising business for the future. That lawsuit might finally come next if the US Department of Justice pushes through with its alleged schedule. The bigger question, however, is whether state attorneys general will be onboard with it.
That Google would be hit by an anti-trust lawsuit was really only a matter of “when” rather than “if”. Last year, the FTC and DOJ announced a much-lauded investigation into Google’s allegedly anticompetitive practices in the fields of Internet search and online advertising. Even with sources claiming that time is nigh, there still seems to be some disagreement from the government’s side if that time is actually right.
There were already reports a few weeks back that Google would finally be facing the DOJ’s music but support from attorneys general has not been solid. While almost all agree that Google should be sued, not all of them see eye to eye that the US government is ready to make its case. Some even suggest that the federal government is moving up its schedule due paint the current administration in a positive light ahead of the US elections.
The lawsuit revolves pretty much around the accusations we’ve already seen hurled at Google elsewhere, legally and online. It claims that Google’s systems intentionally try to put rivaling search engines like Microsoft Bing or other advertisers at a disadvantage by withholding valuable user data and preferences.
For its part, Google says that users have always been free to use other sources of information online and that it isn’t the only game in town. While it might be true that it doesn’t have a monopoly in the legal sense, its position as the dominant service and brand almost ensures that it is the only one most people know about anyway.