Google Antitrust Trial: DOJ Focuses Not Only on Market Dominance, but also Its Fortress of Data

Sabo mocks Google CEO Sundar Pichai

As the federal government’s first antitrust trial of the modern internet era unfolds, the spotlight is on data’s role in Google’s alleged anticompetitive behavior in building a wall around data, which the DOJ calls the “oxygen for a search engine.”

In a recent article from the New York Times  titled “A Key Question in Google’s Trial: How Formidable Is Its Data Advantage?” the NYT delves deeper into the recent antitrust case against Google and the company’s control of data.

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, speaks at Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco on 28 June 2012

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google ( KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/GettyImages )

After the first week of the federal monopoly trial against Google, data has emerged as a central character. Kenneth Dintzer, the Justice Department’s lead lawyer, declared in his opening statement, “Data is oxygen for a search engine.” The government argues that the internet giant’s tactics have built a fortress of data, protecting its search business and stifling competition.

According to the DOJ, the company has engaged in anticompetitive practices by striking exclusive deals with smartphone producers like Apple and Samsung, as well as browser maker Mozilla. These partnerships make Google the default search engine on these platforms, funneling a vast amount of data back to Google and cutting off competitors. “Each search query adds data, which improves search results, attracting more users who generate still more data and advertising revenue,” Dintzer explained.

However, Google’s defense paints a different picture. John Schmidtlein, Google’s lead lawyer, asserted that the government’s case is “an artifice of misleading theory unsupported by the facts.” According to Google, the company’s leading position in the search engine market is not due to its data advantage but because of its technical innovation. “Google competes with others for default-placement contracts and wins mainly because Google is the best search engine,” Schmidtlein stated.

The government’s case is that Google has used unlawful tactics to maintain its monopoly. On the other hand, Google argues that these contracts with industry partners help reduce prices for smartphones and ultimately benefit consumers. In a brief filed this month, Google stated, “Google does not deny that user data can improve search quality, but Google will show that there are diminishing returns to scale.”

Read more at the New York Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.



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