This morning, the Department of Justice and eleven states filed an antitrust civil lawsuit against Google, for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in general search services and search advertising in violation of section two of the Sherman Act.
For years, there have been broad, bipartisan concerns about business practices leading to massive concentrations of economic power in our modern online economy. Hearing those concerns, during his Senate confirmation hearing in January 2019, Attorney General Barr committed to examine the impacts the asserted concentration in technology markets may have had on free, fair, and open competition.
As a result, in July of 2019, shortly after I joined DOJ, the Department announced a review of Market-Leading Online platforms, with the stated goal of assessing “the competitive conditions in the online marketplace in an objective and fair-minded manner and to ensure Americans have access to free markets in which companies compete on the merits to provide services that users want.”
One of the online platforms that was investigated for antitrust concerns was Google’s. The Antitrust Division has been looking at Google and its competitive practices for more than a year. In technology markets, it is necessary for antitrust enforcers to move promptly.
Google is the gateway to the internet and a search advertising behemoth. Google achieved some success in its early years, and no one begrudges that, but, as the antitrust complaint filed today explains, it has maintained its monopoly power through exclusionary practices that harm competition. So the Justice Department has determined that an antitrust response is necessary to benefit consumers. If the government does not enforce the antitrust laws to enable competition, we will lose the next wave of innovation. If that happens, Americans may never get to see the “next Google.”
I’ll also observe that today the Department’s review of competitive conditions as to online digital platforms has reached a milestone, but not a stopping point. We plan to continue our review of competitive practices by market-leading online platforms, and where necessary address those as well.
Finally, I want to note that the Attorney General made this case a priority within the Department, as did our many partners among the States, whom I would like to thank for their helpful engagement. On behalf of the Attorney General and myself, I would also like to thank Deputy Assistant Attorney General Alex Okuliar of the Antitrust Division, and all of the men and women of the Antitrust Division who have worked tirelessly on this case and the online platform competition review more generally, and I would like to add particular thanks as well to Ryan Shores from my office, and to Lauren Willard from the Attorney General’s office, for their indispensable work on these issues.
Before we turn to questions, I’d now like to turn it over very briefly to my colleague and Senior Advisor for Technology Industries Ryan Shores to tell you more about the antitrust lawsuit.