Business & Economy

Google antitrust trial begins in Washington

Washington, Sept 12 (EFE).- The trial against technology giant Google began Tuesday in a US court, where lawyers for the federal government argued that the company has illegally exploited its dominance in Internet searches.

“This case is about the future of the Internet and whether Google’s search engine will ever face meaningful competition,” said Kenneth Dintzer, the lead attorney for the Justice Department.

Over the next 10 weeks, the federal government and more than three dozen states and territories will try to prove that Google struck $10 billion-a-year deals with phone makers like Apple and Samsung, Internet browsers like Mozilla, and wireless companies like AT&T to make Google the default search engine for their users in what Dintzer called a “feedback loop” that “always turns to Google’s advantage.”

According to data analytics firm Similarweb, Google has 90% of the search engine market in the United States and 91% worldwide.

Speaking for Google, John E. Schmidtlein, a partner at Williams & Connolly, a law firm specializing in civil and criminal antitrust litigation, said that people prefer Google simply because it is the best search engine and that the government is bringing this case “in the hopes that forcing people to use inferior products in the short run will somehow be good for competition in the long run.”

Schmidtlein denied that Google has harmed other companies’ search engines, such as Microsoft’s Bing, and argued that users can switch search engines with “a few easy clicks.”

The case will be heard by Judge Mehta of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, without a jury, and the trial is expected to last 10 weeks. If the judge finds that Google broke the law, another trial will decide what steps should be taken.

The Justice Department, which has spent three years building the case, is asking for “structural relief as appropriate” which means Google could be forced to change its business practices or restructure itself.

During opening statements, Dintzer complained that Google’s internal chat system deletes messages after 24 hours, and showed the judge messages in which executives request that chat history be turned off for certain conversations. “They turned history off, your honor, so they could rewrite it here in this courtroom,” Dintzer says.

To defend itself, Tech has hired hundreds of people, retained three powerful law firms, and spent millions of dollars on legal fees and lobbyists, arguing that its dominance was achieved simply by providing the best product.

“At every critical juncture, they were beaten in the market,” Schmidtlein said of Google’s competitors.

EFE pem/ics


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