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Google pays billions of dollars annually to Apple and Samsung, as well as other telecoms giants, to illegally maintain its "number one spot" among search engines, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) told a federal judge.
The IT corporation is paying "enormous numbers" to remain the default search engine in most browsers and on all mobile phones in the US, according to the Department’s attorney Kenneth Dintzer.
Dintzer told to Judge Amit Mehta during a hearing in Washington, which was the first major fight in the case:
Google invests billions in defaults, knowing people won’t change them. They are buying default exclusivity because defaults matter a lot.
At the heart of the antitrust suit are Google's contracts. The Department claims that the company is seeking to maintain its monopoly on internet search in breach of antitrust law. The trial is not expected to officially begin until next year, but the hearing was the first substantive hearing in the case, with each side outlining its views on Google's business.
For his part, Google’s attorney John Schmidtlein said that the Justice Department's understanding of the search engine market is inadequate, and that its officials have focused too much on smaller players like Bing and DuckDuckGo, when the company does have serious competition in TikTok, Meta, Amazon and Grubhub.
You don’t have to go to Google to shop on Amazon. You don’t have to go to Google to buy plane tickets on Expedia. The fact that Google doesn’t face the same competition on every query doesn’t mean the company doesn’t face tough competition.
DOJ attorney Dintzer tried to explain the mechanics of Google's search engine and how its default contracts stifle potential competitors. Google is the "gateway" through which most people find websites on the Internet, which allows it to prevent competitors from reaching the scale necessary to challenge its search engine.
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