The California-based technology giant Google is currently facing an antitrust trial from the DOJ (Department of Justice) and state attorneys. Google is currently worth $1.7 trillion and has the third highest market cap of any company in the United States—below only Apple and Microsoft. Google pays large sums of money to other tech companies to make their search engine the default on their devices and software. The Justice Department claims that these exclusive agreements are monopolistic by nature, hurt innovation throughout the tech industry, and decrease user experience. Google refutes the claims, stating that the only incentive for their exclusive agreements is to compete in the industry and make their products more accessible. 

“This case is about the future of the internet, and whether Google’s search engine will ever face meaningful competition,” said Justice Department lawyer Kenneth Dintzer on Tuesday.

The trial began on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. The main point of contention lies in Google’s exclusive agreements with companies such as Apple and Android to make their browser the default on their devices and preload Google-owned apps. Google pays to be the default search engine for many web browsers, such as Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox. The Justice Department argues that Google maintains a cycle of collecting user data that no other company can keep up with due to the dominance of their search engine. Google’s advertising tool, known as Search Ads 360, is also not compatible with Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. This discourages advertisers from putting ads on Bing and weakens the search engine as a result. The Justice Department also argued that Google’s dominant search engine harms user experience in regard to data privacy and security. If Google does not have significant competition, the company will not be hurt by neglecting the data privacy of their users, leaving them with no incentive to improve their security.

Google’s defense is that their actions were made to compete in the crowded industry and that none of their behavior is anti-competitive. The company’s lead lawyer, John Schmidtlein, claims that Google makes agreements to make their browser the default to stand up to heavy competition. He states that restricting Google would have a negative impact on the innovation of the other companies competing with them, stating, “All of these companies want to be the default…and if Google is prevented from competing that is not going to make Microsoft or DuckDuckGo, or anyone else, run faster.” The company disputed the claim that Google does not have strong competition, as they believe that Amazon is a powerful competitor to Google’s business. They claim that the industry of searching and collecting user data goes beyond search engines, and that searches on Amazon make up a large percentage of the searches on the internet. In order for Google’s actions to be ruled as anti-competitive, there must be no business-related purpose to their actions. They would only be making agreements to unfairly maintain their market power.

Schmidtlein also referenced a previous antitrust case against Microsoft that took place back in 1998, but argued that Google is in a very different situation. Microsoft went to trial over their restriction on alternative web browsers on their software in order to crush all competition to their web browser, Internet Explorer. As a result of the trial, the U.S. government placed heavy restrictions and transparency requirements on Microsoft. The Google antitrust trial is the largest tech company antitrust case since the Microsoft trial. If Google’s actions are ruled to be anti-competitive, the company could face similar consequences, or worse, be forced to break up. A guilty verdict for Google would rattle other tech giants in the industry, especially those that have been investigated for anticompetitive behavior.

Currently, the trial is in its early phases, and this current trial will only determine whether Google broke the law. Many of Google’s competitors are expected to testify, such as Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla, DuckDuckGo, and more. If Google is found guilty, it will likely be many years until Google could possibly face consequences for its actions.

Sophomore Nicholas Carpenter is a Staff Writer. His email is