Where is the consumer harm, y’all? I finally got around to reading the Government’s official Complaint against Google. (You can read it for yourself here.) In summary, the Feds are alleging that Google’s agreements and exclusive deals with Apple are somehow anti-competitive and that Google has shut down search-engine competition on the open-source Android platform. For my part, based on my initial reading of the Government’s Complaint, I am totally unpersuaded that any of Google’s agreements or policies are illegal. To win an anti-trust case, it is simply not enough to show that a business firm has monopoly power in a given market; the government must also show that the firm has used its dominant position in such a way as to harm consumers. Here, the Government specifically alleges that “Google’s conduct has harmed consumers by reducing the quality of general search services (including dimensions such as privacy, data protection, and use of consumer data), lessening choice in general search services, and impeding innovation.” But this key allegation is buried in Paragraph 167 of the Government’s Complaint, and it remains to be seen whether there is any merit to this allegation. For now, my money is on Google, not the Feds. Bonus material: Here is a helpful thread containing Sam Bowman’s economic analysis of the Google case.
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