December 9, 2021

Google’s search business targeted in looming US antitrust case | Money

During a recent congressional hearing, Google executive Don Harrison argued that the company doesn’t dominate the markets it operates in. Google may lead when it comes to general searches, but for product queries and other commercial searches consumers are more likely to start on Amazon.com Inc., he noted.

The Justice Department and states also are investigating Google’s conduct in the advertising-technology market, where Google owns many of the systems that deliver display ads across the web. Some Democratic attorneys general briefed on the case want the Justice Department to include ad-tech in the lawsuit and may file their own complaint after the November election, one of the people said. The Justice Department declined to comment.

Competitors have complained that Google funnels excess search marketing dollars to its display ad network. That extra money can account for large portions of digital publisher revenue, making them less likely to drop Google for a rival ad-tech provider.

U.S. investigators have asked detailed questions about how to limit Google’s power in the search market, according to DuckDuckGo. In Europe, regulators have forced Google to give consumers a choice over which search engine they use on Android phones.

“We’re pleased it seems like the DOJ — unlike any other government in the world — is going to finally address the elephant in the room: Google’s obvious, overwhelming, and anti-competitive dominance in search,” a spokesman for DuckDuckGo said. “Consumers would benefit from a world without search defaults, where they could easily choose their preferred search engine.”

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