back to article Google screwed rivals to protect monopoly, says Uncle Sam in antitrust lawsuit: We go inside the Sherman parked on a Silicon Valley lawn

The US Department of Justice has launched its long-awaited antitrust action against Google, accusing the tech giant of unlawfully protecting its search monopoly through “anti-competitive and exclusionary practices.” The action doesn't explicitly mention breaking up Google, but does ask for "structural relief as needed to cure …

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  1. DS999

    Democratic AGs are on board with a separate effort

    Which also includes some republican AGs some who are and some who aren't also on with this DOJ suit, that goes beyond the simple "search is the only problem" suit the DOJ has filed. I imagine at some point the two would be combined, especially if Biden wins and the operation the DOJ goes back to being about justice instead of acting as the president's personal legal firm.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Democratic AGs are on board with a separate effort

      Now noted in this article -- we're writing a second story right now that kicks off with those separate antitrust cases being prepared.

      C.

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Democratic AGs are on board with a separate effort

      Sorry, but if Harris and her puppet Biden win, they'll be propping up Google rather than tearing them down, as it will have been due to Silicon Valley's "big tech" that they win anyway. And Google would continue to be useful to the New Biden Reich.

      1. Schultz Silver badge
        Stop

        "... the New Biden Reich"

        Jelabarre, could you please take your crude political commentary back out to the pub? The rest of us would like to have a cultured exchange about IT in this forum.

    3. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: Democratic AGs are on board with a separate effort

      El Reg» The Justice Dept's lawsuit is joined by 11 state attorneys general – all Republican, reflecting the dire state of partisan politics in the US.

      I'm not sure what to make of this sentence. Is the problem that there are so few state attorneys general? That they are all Republican? That the Democrats are doing their own thing?

      Honestly, my first (cynical) reading of the sentence was: Google is contributing too little to Republican coffers and this is an election year. You haven't paid the protection money, see, so come and meet Luigi an' the boys.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        "Is the problem that there are so few state attorneys general?"

        It's that the DoJ legal challenge only seemed to involve select Republican AGs, whereas there is a separate bipartisan effort that got overlooked or ignored. The DoJ shouldn't be partisan like this.

        Google, like pretty much every other tech giant and other corps, IIRC lobbies and finances everyone, red and blue.

        C.

      2. john 103

        Re: Democratic AGs are on board with a separate effort

        upvote for "attorneys general"

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS has lobbied hard to get governments after google, ever since 2010 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BrowserChoice.eu

    1. The obvious

      2010 was far too late, the damage was long done. It shouldn’t have taken Microsoft to get on board... the government should have got on with it without needing prompting.

      1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        Dominance in the global market is more important to the US govt than ensuring that monopolies don't abuse their power (or much better yet, that monopolies are not able to form in the first place).

        All of those people out there that call themselves 'capitalist' and are happy for monopolies to exist should actually read Wealth of Nations, instead of only quoting the parts that are convenient to them.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft is at it again too!

    I was helping someone with their desktop computer and started getting pop-ups for the Edge browser that I could only get rid of by killing it with the Windows Task Manager.

    According to The Verge I was not the only one pissed off about it:

    https://www.theverge.com/21310611/microsoft-edge-browser-forced-update-chromium-editorial

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft Edge pop-ups

      I'll have to keep a lookout; on the 7 Win10 machines around me, I haven't gotten that yet.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft Edge pop-ups

        I'm using Windows 8.1 on my main machine and Edge installed itself there too, without my permission. This was about 2 months back.

        As stated above, there is no option to decline the terms of service without using task manager to kill the process, which immediately forces it to uninstall itself without user imput.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft is at it again too!

      Yes, MS too is trying to install a Google-backed software...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MS too is trying to install a Google-backed software...

        We are left wondering who is worse? Google or Microsoft?

        The simple solution is to ban both of them. I stopped directly using MS software in 2016 and google in 2014. Most of the domains controlled by both of them are blocked at my firewall.

        Add all those anti-social media sites into the mix and the internet becomes usable again.

        Try it people. You may never go back.

        Ad free browsing. Slurp free browsing. Faster page loads. What is not to like

        (sic)

        1. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

          Re: MS too is trying to install a Google-backed software...

          Was there a specific list of domains you blocked?

          I use duckduckgo and ghostery, but curious if I should block any domains direct from the firewall.

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          nose spite face

          I stopped directly using MS software in 2016 and google in 2014

          Right on brother, I'm in the motor trade and I realised in 2014 that Snap-on tools are used the world over by professional mechanics, and with good reason.

          So I banned them!

          I've been using pound shop tools ever since.

          Sure theres been a significant increase in skinned knuckles , and rounded bolts , and hence a large productivity drop.....

          .

          But that showed the bastards eh!

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: nose spite face

            The difference is that Snap-on Inc. makes some really good tools which most professional mechanics prefer to use over the competition[0], whereas Redmond and go ogle do not make products which professionals prefer over the competition.

            [0] I personally don't use Snap-on tools, I use my aging Craftsman kit ... probably because I was corrupted as a youth.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: nose spite face

              I think Snap-on has a fair few serious contenders to the crown these days , often at more reasonable prices. They arnt used to the competittion and need to adapt .

              They are surviving on and brand loyalty , hard core fans needing to the "designer" badge

              1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

                Re: nose spite face

                Snap on exist because they sell tools/toys conveniently, on credit, with high pressure direct sales techniques. The tools are massively overpriced otherwise. Not rubbish, but no better than mid-range alternatives on the whole.

                1. MJI Silver badge

                  Re: nose spite face

                  Snap On

                  And they have vans which visit the garages weekly.

                  Quality is good, as is support.

            2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: nose spite face

              Redmond maybe , but google really does seem to be a better search engine than bing.

              I'm just going on a "bigger is better surely?" feeling due to the crawling and servers required.

              hence im guessing that the little known ones either arnt that great , or just use google in the background for you

          2. khjohansen
            Devil

            Re: nose spite face

            This side of the Pond, some of us use & endorse King Dick spanners, available in both metric & several inch-centric sizes ...

            1. First Light Bronze badge

              Re: nose spite face

              Had to look it up because I thought at first you were making an obscene joke . . at least it would be in the US. They would have to change the name to sell them there.

        3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: MS too is trying to install a Google-backed software...

          "We are left wondering who is worse? Google or Microsoft?"

          There's only one way to find out...FIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!

          Where's the Harry Hill icon?

  4. Dinanziame Bronze badge
    Devil

    Breaking up might be good for Google

    At the moment, they are bloated and know so little what to do that they keep rushing out products, most of which disappear within a few years.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Breaking up might be good for Google

      At the least the breakup of Google from Doubleclick should be seriously looked at, there is indeed a conflict of interest there.

      1. RM Myers Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Breaking up might be good for Google

        Doubleclick is really one of the family jewels for Google. As the old saying goes, "follow the money", and advertising is where Google makes the big bucks. Allowing the dominate search engine to buy the dominate online advertising company was just a total disaster, and should never have been allowed.

        1. Zolko

          Re: Breaking up might be good for Google

          "advertising is where Google makes the big bucks."

          erm ... no: advertisement is what makes Google money. Google is only an advertisement brokerage firm, that happens to use a particular tool for it. It's not Doubleclick that should be split-off from search, but Android, and may-be YouTube.

          Let Google make money with search and maps and ads, but let Android free from Google. Actually, with Oracle-vs-Google over Java and Android, this might happen anyway, and rather sooner than later.

          Same for Facebook with WhatsApp and Instagram.

          1. wowfood

            Re: Breaking up might be good for Google

            In all likelyhood i'd expect the following.

            They'd fight tooth and nail to keep search and advertising as those are it's core businesses, and have been since before a lot of other stuff was added. They'd also keep their entire backend server setup as it's used to run these two key areas.

            By keeping the server infrastructure (as it's required for their core business) they would also effectively lock in all split off companies to paying them still as no cost analysis would come up in favour of switching to Azure or AWS, there's simply too much work involved as most are heavily integrated with the google ecosystem already.

            Now for the split of sections.

            Hardware: Drop all the smart home stuff off into a hardware division, as "OK Google" relies on the google search engine to work, they'd maintain dominance for a number of years but could allow competition like Microsoft to set Cortana as a voice assistant for home. Most people will still select google as the default anyway.

            Mobile: This would likely be android and their mobile phone setup. Google can still pay (as they have been) to be the default operator for other manufacturers. They could also continue to add features they want to android as it's open source. It's faking competition.

            Webtools: This would be things like google drive, gmail, maps etc. They would make their money from advertising, when advertising bidding comes up either google will win, or a competitor will pay way above the odds and not make as much profit.

            Media: Youtube, music etc. Same as webtools. google will lose out on the subscription fees but that's about it.

            Basically there would be a lot of juggling, but nothing would really change. The only risk would be if a competitor bought out one of the separated businesses. For instance, if samsung bought out the mobile company.

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    FFS ..... Goose meets Gander and Both go on a Mindbender

    So Google does an Uncle Sam and Uncle Sam throws his toys out of the pram? Priceless. Whatever are they on?

    1. Curtis
      Pint

      Re: FFS ..... Goose meets Gander and Both go on a Mindbender

      Good God. I'm starting to understand AMFM... someone help.

      1. Dinanziame Bronze badge
        Happy

        Re: FFS ..... Goose meets Gander and Both go on a Mindbender

        Sometimes AMFM accidentally makes sense.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: FFS ..... Goose meets Gander and Both go on a Mindbender

          amfM often makes sense. His posts with made-up words can often/usually be ignored as experimental gentle ranting, but the ones in plain English are usually quite insightful.

          1. DJV Silver badge

            Re: FFS ..... Goose meets Gander and Both go on a Mindbender

            Hmm, sometimes I find it hard to tell the difference...

          2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: FFS ..... Goose meets Gander and Both go on a Mindbender

            amfM often makes sense. His posts with made-up words can often/usually be ignored as experimental gentle ranting, but the ones in plain English are usually quite insightful. .... jake

            Sounds/Looks like you've been paying closer attention, jake, and see probably quite a bit more than many others alighting here on El Reg not nearly frequently enough to understand what they have been missing and what would be then currently partly discussed and reintroduced into conversations and discussions for engagement and deployment/realisation and employment.

            1. Maelstorm Bronze badge

              Re: FFS ..... Goose meets Gander and Both go on a Mindbender

              Ok, either the bot suddenly passed the Turing Test, or a human wrote the above post. I think you are running an experiment in machine learning. I have to say you're getting better at it, but you still have a ways to go.

    2. Maelstorm Bronze badge

      Re: FFS ..... Goose meets Gander and Both go on a Mindbender

      LOL LOL LOL I think the bot nailed it there. Whoever is coding it is getting better.

  6. G Mac
    Devil

    Well, the US was Borked (literally) quite a while ago with anti-trust

    The tricky part is that the US has moved from the concept of "monopoly power" to "consumer welfare", really starting with Robert Bork (yes as in Borked):

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Bork#Antitrust_scholar

    His idea, picked by conservative philanthropy, was to teach this basic "economics" to judges so they could then apply this thinking once installed into courts.

    The upshot is that a company may not be regarded as a monopolist even if it drives out competitors due to under pricing goods and services because the consumer "welfare" is not harmed but in fact enhanced - AKA they are paying cheaper prices (even if in the future they are going to be jacked because the monopolist can raise prices due to no competitors being left).

    With that thinking, how could Google be a monopolist given that the consumers are paying NOTHING?! (Even though they are paying in more insidious and opaque ways).

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Well, the US was Borked (literally) quite a while ago with anti-trust

      Hidden pricing is not the same as underpricing. And actual violation of consumer rights does not occur until the screws are turned.

      That's what the "in restraint of trade" part of the act is about.

      Google hides the price of their services, and as such is being deceptive in the marketplace. This deception is (IMHO & IANAL) part of their violation of the act.

      1. G Mac

        Re: Well, the US was Borked (literally) quite a while ago with anti-trust

        "Hidden pricing is not the same as underpricing"

        Underpricing is just one way a monopolist operates with monopoly power.

        "And actual violation of consumer rights does not occur until the screws are turned."

        And now all the competitors are bought out and/or failed due to previous under pricing. Hence why the price argument for consumer "welfare" is bogus when using "price" as a measure for consumer welfare.

        "Google hides the price of their services, and as such is being deceptive in the marketplace"

        Holy smoke pretty much every price you see is made up of "hidden" pricing...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well, the US was Borked (literally) quite a while ago with anti-trust

          personally i'm quite happy with the price of 'nothing' *

          .

          .

          .

          yeah yeah yeah , my data , my browse history the souls of my grandchildren or whatever.

          i dont give a fuck

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Well, the US was Borked (literally) quite a while ago with anti-trust

            And here we are folks... a classic example of exactly how we ended up in this position.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Re: Well, the US was Borked (literally) quite a while ago with anti-trust

              What position? Getting crazy good shit free of charge, paid for by people we hate, called advertisers?

              I genuinely find Google bashing to be beyond bizarre. It's hard to think of any commercial organisation in history that has done more Good in the world.

              1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

                Re: Well, the US was Borked (literally) quite a while ago with anti-trust

                It's hard to think of any commercial organisation in history that has done more Good in the world.

                Dude, are you for real? Not sure what you're smoking, but it must be very illegal in most parts of the planet.

          2. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

            Re: Well, the US was Borked (literally) quite a while ago with anti-trust

            yeah yeah yeah , my data , my browse history the souls of my grandchildren or whatever.

            i dont give a fuck

            Don't worry anybody who does care about those things doesn't give a fuck about you either.

        2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Well, the US was Borked (literally) quite a while ago with anti-trust

          "Hidden" pricing is the price that you don't know you are paying. If I go into a store, and don't participate in their "loyalty" program, then the price I pay is the price on the box. (Assuming they're not monetizing their "security" footage.) More than that is hidden.

  7. Dinanziame Bronze badge
    Boffin

    Stickiness of search engines

    According to StatCounter, Bing has only 1% market share in the US on phones. But on desktops, Bing has 12% market share. And on tablets, Bing apparently has an astonishing 18% market share. So yeah, that's probably people who receive a Windows device and never bother to change the default search engine. No wonder that Google is paying Apple billions for being the default on iOS. On the other, there's far more than 12% of desktops that are on Windows, so a majority of people do change search engines, and that mostly means Google.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "so a majority of people do change search engines"

      No, a majority of people was brainwashed into using Chrome, often finding it installed without their knowledge together other software.

      That said, if Bing was a better engine would have more users. Still, when you get a dominant position you can't use it to stifle competition in any sector you like.

      1. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

        Re: "so a majority of people do change search engines"

        Bing Maps is acceptable these days, I actually prefer it.

        Not sure about Google competitors. I use DuckDuckGo for privacy but the results just aren't as good as Google. It's hard to tell if this is due to Google brilliance, or Google Voodoo being able to profile me and my history and target what I am likely to want.

        For example Google search often finds techie related sites, while Bing almost steers me toward celebrity news...

        I am finding Ecosia is getting better! Surprisingly usable and EU/charity based (revenue goes to plant trees apparently).

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