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What the Google Antitrust Trial Will Mean For the Future of Internet Browsing

Ian Madrigal, a demonstrator, protests in front of Kent Walkers (President of Global Affairs/Chief Legal Officer of Alphabet Inc.) car.
AP Photo Free, Jose Luis Magana
Ian Madrigal, a demonstrator, protests in front of Kent Walker’s (President of Global Affairs/Chief Legal Officer of Alphabet Inc.) car.

On September 12th, the trial between the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) lawsuit with the world’s leading search engine, Google, began.

 

Google has made multibillion dollar deals with technology companies like Apple to make it the default search engine on products. The DOJ claims that these deals are unfair to their competition. Antitrust laws have never really been applied to digital businesses and in the future more tech companies may be affected. The DOJ’s lawsuit was filed in October 2020.

Sundar PIchai (Google CEO) seen on October 30 leaving the courthouse. (AP Photo Free, Mariam Zuhaib)

Since the trial has started, rival companies have testified. DuckDuckGo and Microsoft state that persuading companies to change their default search engines and attracting users is almost impossible because of Google’s deals. Google claimed that they are the leading browser because they’re “the best one.” 

 

Part of Google’s response is that anyone can switch their default browser to another one. Though this is true, as of October 2023, 88% of Americans use Google. Many people believe that by allowing Google to have competition, consumers can have a better, wider variety of options for their personal privacy. Google pushes many advertisements and has to monitor their users to do so. It turns out that because marketers have such limited options, Google can inflate the prices for search ads. 

 

Even though Google did not disclose the amount of money they have spent during the trial, we do know that nearly 27 billion dollars had been spent in 2021. 

 

The DOJ compared this case to the 1998 lawsuit against Microsoft. The main takeaway was that Internet Explorer dominated the internet browser market because the browser came with every Microsoft product and was hard to remove. It was also hard to add new browsers. The DOJ ruled this as abuse of power. Microsoft was fined billions and newer browsers took over. The DOJ is worried that was how Google came to power and now they are repeating history. 

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, says, “Defaults are the only thing that matters.” Google’s lawyers disagree. Nadella also believes that the advancement of AI would only make Google harder to compete with.  

 

This trial is now named “The first big trial of the antitrust movement” by Vox, and if Google loses, the company may have to break up their assets. While it is unlikely, if this happens Google will not be able to make exclusive default browser deals. They would finally have to compete for ad space. Another outcome is the chance that advertisers sue for damages.

 

The case is set to go on for ten weeks and more testimonies from Google and the company that owns them, Alphabet Inc, are to come. 

 

Sources: https://apnews.com/article/google-antitrust-trial-search-engine-defense-21c59367d8db87ba16a0c0628f7b6fbc

https://searchengineland.com/google-search-antirust-trial-hearing-updates-431977

https://www.reuters.com/technology/five-things-know-about-google-antitrust-trial-it-hits-halfway-mark-2023-10-12/

https://www.vox.com/technology/2023/9/11/23864514/google-search-antitrust-trial

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/25/technology/google-antitrust-trial.html

Sundar PIchai (Google CEO) seen on October 30 leaving the courthouse. (AP Photo Free, Mariam Zuhaib)
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About the Contributor
Natasha Munemo, Writer
Natasha is a junior at OHS. She enjoys reading and watching/learning about film in her free time.
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