Updated May 4th, 2024 at 07:58 IST

Google trial concludes as judge weighs landmark US antitrust claims

TikTok and Meta's Facebook and Instagram could be considered viable alternatives for advertisers.

Reported by: Business Desk
Google asks court to throw out US advertising case | Image:Shutterstock

Google's court reprieve: In a watershed moment for the tech industry, Google and the US Justice Department have concluded their closing arguments regarding allegations that Google's dominance in web search and advertising violates antitrust laws. The outcome of this case, which the government describes as having significant implications for the future of the internet, rests with US District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington.
During the proceedings, Judge Mehta scrutinised both sides, particularly focusing on whether platforms like ByteDance's TikTok and Meta's Facebook and Instagram could be considered viable alternatives for advertisers. The issue of whether Google's conduct constitutes a breach of civil antitrust law looms large, with experts anticipating potential changes to Google's business practices pending the judge's ruling.
Key to the arguments was the examination of Google's advertising revenue, which constitutes a substantial portion of its overall earnings. The government contended that this revenue stream is the linchpin of Google's monopoly power, alleging that the company can manipulate pricing and product quality with impunity.

Google's TikTok, Facebook woes 

Google's defense emphasised the evolving landscape of digital advertising, citing the emergence of competing platforms and Google's continuous efforts to innovate its advertising products. They argued that competition from platforms like TikTok and Facebook constrains Google's pricing power, and highlighted Google's ongoing commitment to enhancing its offerings.
Throughout the trial, the government underscored Google's alleged anticompetitive behavior, including claims of intentional document destruction. Witnesses, including representatives from Verizon and Samsung Electronics, testified about Google's efforts to maintain its dominance, such as through lucrative agreements to secure default search placement on smartphones and browsers.
Judge Mehta also raised concerns about Google's document retention policies, questioning whether the company adequately preserved relevant materials. Google's defense maintained that its practices were reasonable, pushing back against calls for sanctions.

This case, initiated during the Trump administration, represents a broader effort to address the market power of tech giants. With similar actions underway against companies like Meta, Amazon, and Apple, the outcome of this trial could set significant precedents for antitrust regulation in the tech sector.


(With Reuters inputs) 


Published May 4th, 2024 at 07:58 IST