WASHINGTON (AP) — Google has exploited its dominance of the internet search market to lock out competitors and smother innovation, the Department of Justice said Tuesday at the opening of the biggest U.S. antitrust trial in a quarter century.
“This case is about the future of the internet and whether Google’s search engine will ever face meaningful competition,” said Kenneth Dintzer, the Justice Department’s lead litigator.
Over the next 10 weeks, federal lawyers and state attorneys general will try to prove Google rigged the market in its favor by locking in its search engine as the default choice in a plethora of places and devices. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta likely won’t issue a ruling until early next year. If he decides Google broke the law, another trial will decide what steps should be taken to rein in the Mountain View, California-based company.
Top executives at Google and its corporate parent Alphabet Inc., as well as those from other powerful technology companies are expected to testify. Among them is likely to be Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, who succeeded Google co-founder Larry Page four years ago. Court documents also suggest that Eddy Cue, a high ranking Apple executive, might be called to the stand.
The Justice Department filed its antitrust lawsuit against Google nearly three years ago during the Trump administration, alleging that the company has used its internet search dominance to gain an unfair advantage against competitors. Government lawyers say Google protects its franchise through a form of payola, shelling out billions of dollars annually to be the default search engine on the iPhone and on web browsers such as Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox.