The US government is preparing to make its case in courts over Google’s alleged anti-competitive practices, particularly on the Internet. While it may already have its arguments prepared, the Justice Department may still be considering what steps it will require Google to take, presuming it wins its case. One of those may be to split up the company, which is already just a subsidiary of the bigger Alphabet, which includes selling off the most-used web browser in the market, Chrome.
The DOJ’s upcoming antitrust lawsuit against Google really revolves more around its alleged monopoly and unfair advantage in digital advertising, a position recently echoed by the House Judiciary Committee. As part of its preparations, it has asked feedback from rivals and third-parties on what fixes have to be made to curb Google’s immense power. One such step would be to split it up and Chrome’s name came up as one of those properties outside of advertising that needed to go.
While not directly involved in Google’s advertising business, it’s hard to deny that Chrome contributes immensely to Google’s position and influence on the Web. As the most-used browser today, websites have to pretty much play by the rules Google imposes through Chrome features as well as through “industry-wide” campaigns and coalitions. This, in turn, helps Google push its own advertising platform forward as the reference implementation of how ads should behave.
That said, the DOJ’s case, which is expected to be formally filed within the next few weeks, won’t be an easy one, especially if state attorneys general feel the government is still unprepared for a legal battle with the tech giant. The court of popular opinion, at least among regulators and lawmakers, does seem to at least side with the general view of how Big Tech may have overstepped their boundaries.
Google will also face an uphill battle, especially if the proposal to sell off Chrome comes up. It could, however, argue how disrupting this part of its operations could prove destructive to the Web, considering how many businesses, apps, and services have been tied not just to the Chrome web browser but to Chrome OS as well as its open source Chromium base.