The lawsuit marks the biggest antitrust case in a generation, comparable to the lawsuit against Microsoft Corp filed in 1998 and the 1974 case against AT&T which led to the breakup of the Bell System.
The lawsuit claims that Google acted unlawfully to maintain its position in search and search advertising on the internet. It states that “absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anticompetitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation.
“Google is now the unchallenged gateway to the internet for billions of users worldwide ... For the sake of American consumers, advertisers, and all companies now reliant on the internet economy, the time has come to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition.”
When asked on a conference call what specific action should be taken, a Justice Department official said, “Nothing is off the table.”
Google, whose search engine is so ubiquitous that its name has become a verb, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company had revenue of $162 billion in 2019, more than the nation of Hungary.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley, a vociferous Google critic, accused the company of keeping power through “illegal means” and called the lawsuit “the most important antitrust case in a generation.”
The Microsoft lawsuit was credited with clearing the way for the explosive growth of the internet since the antitrust scrutiny prevented the company from attempting to thwart competitors.
Tuesday’s federal lawsuit marks a rare moment of agreement between the Trump administration and progressive Democrats. US Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted on Sept. 10, using the hash tag #BreakUpBigTech, that she wanted “swift, aggressive action.”