It’s so associated with web searching that it’s become a verb. Now the government is suing Google, accusing it of abusing its power as a monopoly. The case opened last week.
The case is complex. It involves Google’s search engine business — which has amassed 90% of the search engine market in the United States and 91% globally, according to Similarweb, a data analysis firm. It also involves its advertising business. It is also not likely to be the most transparent trial. Google is claiming much of the testimony contains proprietary information and thus can only be held behind closed doors. A 10-week trial calendar also makes constant mainstream press coverage unlikely.
Yet, the case is hugely important. It is “the first monopoly trial of the modern internet era,” according to the New York Times, and is being compared with the 1998 case against Microsoft in which a judge found the corporation violated antitrust laws. “It’s a big deal that now it’s happening,” says Elettra Bietti, an assistant professor at Northeastern’s School of Law and Khoury College of Computer Sciences. Bietti also practiced antitrust law in Brussels and the United Kingdom and litigated patent law in the pharmaceutical and technology industries.