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 …

  1. DS999 Silver badge

    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

      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
        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

        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

        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 Silver 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 Silver 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
          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 Silver 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 Bronze badge

          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 Silver 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

                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

            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 Silver 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 Silver 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).

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

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

          able to profile me and my history and target what I am likely to want.

          oh no the horror!

          Its the same when i go to the pub and the landlord says "Hello mate, the usual?"

          that happend last week , so guess what i did

          I told him fuck yooooou maty! you're getting too big for your britches , half the village drinks in this pub, not surprising considering the quality of the products and the money invested

          I dont care that the beer is Free! you know my drinking history and that is not acceptable!

          So I'm gonna go to the sticky carpet fleapit next door , where they havent cleaned the pipes in year , have a couple of pints of gut rot and be in the emergency room by midnight!

          .

          That showed em eh!

          1. jake Silver badge

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

            Are you really this daft, Prst. V.Jeltz? Or am I missing an attempt at humo(u)r?

            1. DJV Silver badge
              Happy

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

              Well, actually, I downvoted him for his total inability to use punctuation properly!

          2. My-Handle Silver badge

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

            Or, more accurately:

            Barman: "Hi mate, you want another Stella*?"

            Me: "Uh, I've never ordered Stella in here..."

            Barman: "No, but I followed you around the supermarket for the last three weeks and noted down what you bought."

            Me: "Wow, that's....really creepy. I'm going to another pub now."

            It's less about Google remembering what you've searched before and more about it tracking you across half the internet and several different devices. Generally, that's what anticompetitive business practices are about, abusing dominance in one market to give yourself an unfair advantage in another.

            (* chosen purely as an example and should not be taken as an endorsement or reflection of personal taste. I actually don't drink beer in any form :) )

        2. MJI Silver badge

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

          I used to use multimap then it got mapped to maps.live.com, then the German tin plate site.

          I still call it multimap.

          Will not work though on my phone which is a real PITA

          Why is it so wanted here in the UK?

          One reason above all others.

          ORDNANCE SURVEY OVERLAY

          1. andy gibson

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

            If you want OS maps on your (Android) phone I can't recommend Maverick highly enough.

            1. hoola Silver badge

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

              Or just pay the small amount to Ordnance Survey to be able to use their maps properly. OS Maps are one of the things that I use periodically for leisure and it is useful to have the latest data. The small amount annual you pay for "Premium" is I think the equivalent of 4 maps. For that you can print, get offline access, multi layers etc. At the end of the day there is a reason why people want Ordnance Survey and that is because it is the best of the best.

        3. Zolko Bronze badge

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

          "I use DuckDuckGo for privacy but the results just aren't as good as Google"

          I stopped using DDG and use Qwant instead: much better than anything.

          For me Google gives mostly shitty answers: first are always YouTube videos or Amazon articles, or some commercial supplier, often actually concurrent of what I'm really looking for. Also, you have to know the search engine, know what sort of keywords to use to get your results. With DDG before, and Qwant now, I always get the first results I need when entering the keywords that matter. With Google, my keywords are superseded by who is paying more to be on top of the list: useless crap for most serious search.

          It's been years that I don't use Google search. And never look back.

        4. Trollslayer
          Thumb Up

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

          I found Ecosia and it just works plus they get trees planted - over 110 million as of today!

          They don't hide money away in tax havens.

  8. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    On the other hand

    Which search engine do you prefer ? For my purposes Google is a better search engine than Bing. Google also provides useful services like Maps (including StreetView and LiveTraffic) and YouTube. (YouTube with AdBlockPlus is quite usable for background music.)

    To get the equivalent to Google's services without the advertising tie-in would require a subscription that probably would not be cheap.

    Whatever you get has to be paid for in one way or another - I prefer the advertisers paying rather than my having to pay a subscription.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: On the other hand

      Yes, but you don't get the choice. Personally I'd rather pay for the services I need and not have to bother about blocking all the adverts. But the notion has taken hold that payment-by-advertising is the only possible method, so no-one ever tries the option (beyond a few newspapers with paywalls, and academic publishers with exorbitant charges for material already paid for by the public).

      And as a result, we have the morass - not of adverts themselves, distasteful timewasters as they are - but of all the associated third-party scripts that silently expose your machine to who knows what.

      I wonder what Alphabet's yearly net income is, divided by the number of their users? A quick DDG tells me $34B, and one might guess that more than half the connected population uses them at some time or other, say four billion. So, five or ten bucks a year - wouldn't that be worth it for all the convenience that Alphabet offers? Simultaneously, we get back the bandwidth currently being swamped with pointless dreck, remove the need for the heaps of scripts that eat power and slow our machines, and remove the hiding places for the parasites.

      It need not even be paid directly - a dollar on your monthly phone/broadband service would do it. And, you know, my heart really bleeds for all those advertising execs that would be out of work. Why, they might have to learn to do something productive!

      1. Dinanziame Silver badge

        Re: On the other hand

        I wonder what Alphabet's yearly net income is, divided by the number of their users? A quick DDG tells me $34B

        Note that net income is what they make after paying for salaries, electricity, data centres, tax, etc. Their total revenue (what they make for selling ads and a bit of cloud computing, before paying for all the stuff above) is $160B, and that's what you would need to replace with a yearly payment.

        That said, no matter how much Google uses their power to keep users in, they can only be successful if they have a good product (and they had plenty of failed products like Google+, no matter how hard they tried to push it). It's much better to keep that incentive to keep the product good.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: On the other hand

          If the move to payment was 100%, then we wouldn't need to hit their total revenue. Their overhead for ad servers, ad employees etc. would dwindle leaving a lower total revenue still producing a greater net income.

          Given that it wouldn't be, you'd have to now make it worth not only new employees to handle the subscriptions, but also employees to ensure subscribers don't see that they are still tracked.

    2. Trollslayer

      Re: On the other hand

      Try Ecosia - https://www.ecosia.org/?c=en

      Every bit as good and they help the ecology instead of putting money in tax havens.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: On the other hand

        Oh look, a brown masquerading as a green. How unusual.

  9. The obvious

    People have a choice?

    “ People use Google because they choose to, not because they're forced to.”

    Yeah, ok. We can test that.

    Block Google’s ASN at the firewall, and attempt to go about your normal use of the web for a day and tell us how long you last.

    1. Ivan Headache

      Re: People have a choice?

      I have a little app on my Mac called ‘Little Snitch’, it reports every time an application wants to send something to a remote server.

      Most of the time it sits benignly telling me that every now and again Apple wants to check out my software updates, and similar things like that.

      However, should I launch a web-browser it goes bonkers. I went to a site today and as the home page loaded there were six or seven separate warnings about Google wanting this that and the other.

      The site had nothing to do with Google but it was there. Occasionally it happens when an email is opened.

      Often when I’m out servicing one of my many domestic (I.e. senior) clients I get told “I can’t get on to Google”

      For many people, and not just seniors (techies not included), Google is the internet.

      I regularly get emails from the BBC advising that tickets are available for various live and recorded shows, and over the years have been to many. Since the lockdown and the stock of recorded material has been used the BBC has started doing virtual recordings for shows. the News Quiz and The Infinite Monkey Cage are a couple of examples, where the ‘studio’ audience actually take part from their own homes. There have been a couple where I would like to have been involved. However, in order to take part one must use Google Chrome.

      1. Jan 0 Silver badge

        Re: People have a choice?

        Thanks for the pointer to "Little Snitch". Pricey, but worth a test run or three before commiting.

      2. Zolko Bronze badge

        Re: People have a choice?

        "However, in order to take part one must use Google Chrome."

        did you try "Ungoogled Chromium" ? It's supposed to be the open-source Chromium with all Google-related stuff removed. That's what I use whenever I need to use Chrome (which I never use as such): Google Maps, Google Meet, Google Docs...

        Works like a charm.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: People have a choice?

      "Block Google’s ASN at the firewall,"

      Been there, done that.

      " and attempt to go about your normal use of the web for a day and tell us how long you last."

      It's been almost twenty years now. Near as I can tell, it hasn't affected my Internet Experience (whatever that means!) in any negative way.

  10. DavCrav Silver badge

    "Today, you can easily download your choice of apps or change your default settings in a matter of seconds—faster than you can walk to another aisle in the grocery store."

    "Of particular focus is the deal with Google and Apple where Google pays Apple billions of dollars to make Google the default search on Apple’s iOS devices."

    These two sentences are not compatible. Google pays Apple billions for something that is easy to change and people can easily do at the drop of a hat. So, why pay billions then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: So, why pay billions then?

      because people are lazy.

      Most of those non techies out there simply don't realise that they can change the default search engine away from google on their Apple device.

      With us techies this is all part of setting up our devices. (unless you love Google and all that it stands for that is...)

      I started blocking google around 2014. There are a few bits that you simply can't block if you want almost anything to work but sites like Doubleclick are so easy to block.

      IMHO, everyone should be aware that Google is after your life data. Reduce the amount they get to an absolute minimum and give them the finger big time.

      If you search on google to the real me, I am simply not there. Long may that continue. You shoud try it sometime. You could get a shock at how much of your life is up for grabs.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: re: So, why pay billions then?

        I still dont get why they pay billions, if apple offered a search engine picker on first use most would choose google.

        If they made the default dogpile , or some other dogshit , most muggles would make an effort to figure how to change it after a while

      2. Eguro
        Holmes

        Re: re: So, why pay billions then?

        We all know that the truth of why they are paying billions to be made the default is that it works to keep people using Google..

        This fact does fly in the face of this initial defence offered by Google.

        The defence is basically that nobody is forced to use Google and it's super easy to change, so people would just do that if they wanted something else - thus Google is actually what people choose (aka they aren't forced).

        Which would imply that - given Google is obviously what people prefer (given that they don't switch even though it's super simple - see paragraph above) - people would do that super easy thing and switch the search to Google if Google wasn't the default.

        But in that case it sure seems like a massive waste of money to pay for exclusivity deals, so why do they do it?

  11. Robert Grant Silver badge

    even after it is banned from pushing exclusionary agreements

    What agreements are they?

    1. -tim

      Google have agreements like the one they forced on RIM which means they could no longer update the version of virtualized Android that ran on their QNX OS and forced all their new phones to be 100% Android thus completely killing a competitor. I would buy a new QNX phone today if there was one but Google's anti competitive actions mean there will never be another.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "What agreements are they?"

      It's up to the US government to prove any exclusionary agreements were made, or get Google to otherwise agree it won't make any such deals in future, whether or not it was found to have signed them in the past.

      For a taste of these agreements, see the article, particularly the paragraph beginning:

      "Of particular focus is the deal with Google and Apple where Google pays Apple billions of dollars to make Google the default search on Apple’s iOS devices..."

      C.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    "rushed things at the last minute for pure political reasons"

    It is also possible that the case is being rushed because a Biden victory might mean an administration that would quietly bury the anti-trust case in the pre-trial stage at the request of the Democratic Party's many donors in Silicon Valley.

  13. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    Don't wait for government

    It is undesirable that these big corporations have so much on us individually.

    Competition should mean voting with our feet. But are people really just lazy and couldn't be bothered?

    We can't just rely on competition and people, we still need government protection – but it will be really slow.

    And slowness means companies can use the political process. After decades against the mispractice of IBM, Ronald Reagan just dropped the anti-trust case against them. Consumer power with the industry moving faster than IBM could hold it back became the humbling of IBM. But the power was not entirely broken, just moved to Microsoft.

  14. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    Dumbed-down User Search

    We used to have searches that depended on some computing knowledge and Boolean logic. Where has that gone?

    It seems that the user used to be in control of their own search – you could specify whether you wanted anything with any of the words (or), or combination of words (and), and a whole lot of other conditions. (Older people will remember INSPEC https://www.theiet.org/publishing/inspec/).

    Even if you can still do that, it is not widely advertised.

    Why have they done this? I can speculate it is because the search engines have moved the knowledge of what we might want to themselves. They collect this data so they have the power over what we want and can inject their own preferences.

    Consumers need to take this power back. It is annoying that searches often result in what the search engine wants you to see, not really what you want.

    Yes, we want ease of use, but we should not lose the capability to specify more advanced searches ourselves. We have allowed the search engines to steal that from us.

    It is not just Google that has dumbed down search. We need to put the power of search back into the hands of users.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Dumbed-down User Search

      Oh, indeed. Perhaps Google can enable the use of C++ to build queries.

      1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

        Re: Dumbed-down User Search

        "Oh, indeed. Perhaps Google can enable the use of C++ to build queries."

        Ugh. As I've pointed out before, you don't need languages as ugly and flawed as C++ to do powerful things.

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

          Re: Dumbed-down User Search

          woosh!

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Dumbed-down User Search

      When I was a student, searching a publication database was something you learned to do, since at the time you had to pay for each query.

      So learning the related search language was required so as to craft the queries that would provide you the relevant results in a minimum of tries.

      Only a few people were able to fully master this dark art...

      Then came SQL and it was "easier" to craft the queries.

      But you still had to know what terms to use in your search, and performing a search on a simple topic like "who is the boss of Google" against a news web site would have required to add all the synonyms to "boss" to ensure that the relevant pages could be found, the end results being SQL statements several pages long, with all the difficulties you can imagine to ensure that you are not missing any braces...

      So when systems were introduced to analyze the initial query (who is the boss of Google) and automatically generate the relevant SQL statement including all the synonyms and other relevant variants (where you searching for Google or Alphabet? let's add it also but with a lower weight!), everyone was then able to find documents without arcane knowledge of query languages.

      And if you had a multilingual corpus to search into, it was also possible to generate queries working in multiple languages and get all the relevant documents whatever their origin.

      That was 20 years ago, and since a lot of enterprise or web search engines have disappeared...

    3. PerlyKing Silver badge

      Re: Dumbed-down User Search

      I'd love advanced search to be there as an option, but I suspect that this is one case where the market really has spoken, and has said that it wants simplified searching.

      I invite you to teach my wife (a wonderful woman, but not a techie) how to use a search engine which needs "some computing knowledge and Boolean logic".

      1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

        Re: Dumbed-down User Search

        "I'd love advanced search to be there as an option, but I suspect that this is one case where the market really has spoken, and has said that it wants simplified searching."

        You can have both – simplified searching just a list of words, but operators in between for advanced searches. I think they used to have that (is it still there), but it seems to not work now.

  15. RM Myers Silver badge
    Unhappy

    ..."searches often result in what the search engine wants you to see"

    Is this what the search engines "wants" you to see, or just the poor quality of search results. Other than the mess of ads disguised as search results at the top of the listing, I usually don't see any intent to confuse, just poor quality results.

    I just did a medical test search in Google in which I was looking for the opposite of a common search, and Google gave me over half a million results. However, every result on the first page was the opposite of what I had asked. In this case, I asked if a medication could prevent a syndrome, and it gave me results talking about the medication causing the syndrome as a side effect. This is a real search, and the medication can actually lessen the syndrome in rare cases (a particular autoimmune disease), but since the side effect is much more common, Google chose to ignore my actual query.

    Machine learning at its best! But that is the beauty of a monopoly, there is no incentive to improve the product as long as there is no threatening rival!

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: ..."searches often result in what the search engine wants you to see"

      Indeed. The last few days I tried "tax supported" opera houses to find out which nations, like Italy, Germany and Britain actually subsidise such culture [ American opera seems to be supported by tax breaks and charity --- which seems to work fairly well, yet I prefer direct government involvement ]

      and 90% of the results were American Opera Houses begging for donations; which would be a non-issue except I wanted to know something else. Like a list of countries who directly fund Opera. I would think both Russia and France do, f'instance.

      .

      Then aluminium wire household wiring uk [ substituting other nations for uk in sequence ] to see if other countries use aluminium domestic wire, [ OK for Mains ] apart from America --- which went through a period in the 1970s of using it in place of copper, with subsequent house fires --- and East Germany --- presumably just because poor and soviet.

      Most of the results offered to sell me a reel of aluminium wire; discussed the dangers of inferior wiring; or discussed the minutiae of electrical engineering; no mention of other countries using such wire at all. Again fine if that was what I wanted, but it wasn't.

      .

      There were only of idle temporary interest; so it must be worse for researchers relying on discovery...

      And apart from the fact Google has become a direct huckstering market place with most results, not displaying actual information posts, the more you narrow the search with additional words, the more likely you are to suddenly drop to 85 results only. Again, none of them of much use.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: ..."searches often result in what the search engine wants you to see"

        So basically you can't come up with sensible search queries, and you're blaming google?

        Obviously you need to find a word that fits your objective but has as few alternate meanings as possible.

        Googling publicly funded opera houses or aluminium conductors finds what you're looking for.

  16. _andrew
    Coat

    The default search on the default browser on the default operating system on every PC...

    ... is not Google. Yes they have the mobile market mostly stitched up, but that happened long after they were established as far-and-away the best search option.

    What do you imagine will happen if Apple are forced to stop accepting Google's placement coin for search defaults? I'd expect that the _only_ effect will be that apple has to raise that extra revenue elsewhere, by putting up their prices: almost everyone will choose Google themselves, given the choice, because the alternatives are worse.

    Worst outcome, I expect, will be the death of Firefox, which lives entirely on the income of that default search placement.

    I remember the days of Yahoo! curated links and AltaVista. I'll choose Google any day.

    1. Eguro

      Re: The default search on the default browser on the default operating system on every PC...

      If Apple could just raise their prices to make up the lost revenue, then Apple would already have raised prices to that level. Otherwise Apple is currently leaving money on the table.

      The point that almost everyone would choose Google anyway leads naturally to the question of why Google is wasting all that cash on being the default search.

      Seems like not only Apple, but also Google is happily either leaving money on the table or throwing money away for no reason.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: The default search on the default browser on the default operating system on every PC...

        It seems obvious enough that Google benefits from the branding tie-up to a greater extent than Apple, so is paying Apple to balance the deal. They are each seeing much bigger benefits than the cash portion.

    2. EnviableOne Silver badge

      Re: The default search on the default browser on the default operating system on every PC...

      They have the mbile market stiched up as they pay apple and own android, forcing the defaults

      they might be the best search option, but it doesnt mean they should be alloud to use this dominance to make them dominant in other markets, like advertising.

      they might be the dominant browser, but is chrome the best?

      I loved the age of AltaVista, Yahoo!, Lycos, and my personal favourite alltheweb

      I agree, if this suit reaches its outcome the only caualty will be Firefox, that rely on google's money to run, and are the only non-chromium browser with any kind of market share.

  17. msobkow Bronze badge

    More importantly, Trump is losing in the polls and is desperate to appear to be "doing something" about the Big Bad Google that freaks the uneducated out.

  18. IGotOut Silver badge

    Politicians always a decade behind.

    Hands up who here said at the time allowing Google to buy Double Click was a dumb idea?

    I know I wasn't the only one.

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Politicians always a decade behind.

      Oh, if only it were just politicians...

      I recall numerous times dating back over the last few years where I accumulated a good number of downvotes for suggesting Google was anything other than the saviour of IT.

      ... yup, that's not the one that got me the most downvotes. But the response post in retrospect always puts an ironic smile on my face...

      We - that is, the IT community - are more responsible for this than even the politicians. We are the ones that our friends, families, employers and society in general turn to for advise. And despite the claims of so many of us to be on the cutting edge of technology, far too many of us were - and still are, in some cases - too wrapped up in a 20+ year-old grudge to prevent this.

      Some how "told you so" really doesn't seem to cut it in this situation. But I do fully expect to rack up a few more downvotes off this... I just hope that they're for my being a smug bastard, as opposed to from those who are still somehow deluded by Google.

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: Politicians always a decade behind.

        If one is faced by Burke and Hare, that does not mean one forgives Sawney Bean's long ago sins in adding one's family to the cooking pot.

  19. steviebuk Silver badge

    When will be Apple's turn?

    Its been a long time coming. Considering when you buy their device you're forced into using their app store and Steve Jobs poor attempt at making jailbreaking illegal that, thankfully, was thrown out of court or did he loose I can't remember.

  20. gerdesj Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    !

    "People use Google because they choose to, not because they're forced to, or because they can't find alternatives."

    lol.

    Bing is forced upon Windows users by MS, by default and yet accounts for 1% of the search market. So if a monster like MS can't do it and Goog pays Apple billions to get to the front of the queue on their stuff, what choice is that numpty on about?

  21. James Rome

    Google has a near monopoly because it is the best search engine. Customers vote with their feet.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Last time I tried voting with my feet I was shouted at. "What's WRONG with you? Use the pen!"

      People also looked funny at me.

  22. Binraider Silver badge

    Substitute the words "Google Search" for "Microsoft Office", or "Adobe Photoshop". Then read same paragraphs back. What Google have done to stifle competition in search is no less than what MS and Adobe have done for Office applications or Graphics.

    After all, the college round the corner from me offers plenty of Photoshop for Beginners, or Excel for Beginners courses. Not "image editing" for beginners or "spreadsheets" for beginners.

    Google wields enormous power; because it's search engine usually gets you to what you actually want very quickly. Rarely have as much success with any other engine. Is it using that power to actively attack other search engines? No. Build a better engine than google, and I'll be there in a flash.

  23. Gerlad Dreisewerd

    Rivals?

    So how does the chocolate factory explain their jihad against Gab other than the fact it's not Twitter? This implies measurable collusion in the tech country club.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Rivals?

      Gab? You mean the outfit that is so far to the right that it accepts with open arms folks who even the Republicans throw out as hateful? The gab that still allows the people who doxxed and sent death threats to the co-founder of the service's wife? That gab?

      Somehow I rather suspect it doesn't have anything to do with collusion, but rather that tech companies in general don't like shit on their shoes any more than most of the rest of us do.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a coincidence?

    Jus a coincidence that Google and Farcebook have recently decided to massively increase their "free speech" by "speaking" with Belters via cash (lobbying.)

    Classic Washington shakedown, "talk" more to the belters and suddenly the AG backs down and Congress leaves 230 intact.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

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