“Justice Dept. Plans to File Antitrust Charges Against Google in Coming Weeks”

By: Grace Tonrey

Article Written By: Katie Benner and Cecilia Kang

Alphabet

Image from Wikipedia

Alphabet is “The parent company of Google and Youtube” and arguably one of the “World’s wealthiest, most formidable technology companies” (Benner and Kang). The company, as shown on the graphic below, is worth $768 billion which is equivalent to roughly 38 African Countries.

Antitrust Laws

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Antitrust Laws are “‘unfair methods of competition’ and ‘unfair or deceptive acts or practices’”, they “‘m[ust] be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly’”, “also [they] bans certain discriminatory prices, services, and allowances in dealings between merchants”, and, lastly, “require[s] companies planning large mergers or acquisitions to notify the government of their plans in advance.” The laws were created after the Sherman Act (1890) which described the types of Antitrust Law; “‘comprehensive charter of economic liberty aimed at preserving free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade.'” According to the FTC, “In 1914, Congress passed two additional antitrust laws: the Federal Trade Commission Act, which created the FTC, and the Clayton Act.” In reference to penalties Alphabet, if successfully charged, the FTC states if charged “criminal penalties of up to $100 million for a corporation and $1 million for an individual, along with up to 10 years in prison. Under federal law, the maximum fine may be increased to twice the amount the conspirators gained from the illegal acts or twice the money lost by the victims of the crime if either of those amounts is over $100 million.”

Political Slant

Image from: Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times

One of the topics we discussed was the reality of corporate influence specifically in politics. According to the article, Barr not only wanted to “announce the case in September to take credit for action against a powerful tech company under the Trump administration” but he also “echoed the president’s criticism and said that antitrust laws could be used to keep companies from restricting the spread of conservative views.” This case not only has huge implications of internet privacy, but also shows the control that Alphabet has over the President of the United States.

Corporate Power and Responsibility

This all brings us to the responsibility that Alphabet has. Alphabet is one of the largest companies in the world and “with great power comes great responsibility”. According to Katie Benner and Cecilia Kang:

“Google controls about 90 percent of web searches globally, and rivals have complained that the company extended its dominance by making its search and browsing tools defaults on phones with its Android operating system. Google also captures about one-third of every dollar spent on online advertising, and its ad tools are used to supply and auction ads that appear across the internet.”

In class, we discussed the importance of large companies giving back to their consumers and other members of the company. However, Alphabet not only has not given back they also have not been using their power responsibly. The article states how “Alphabet was an obvious antitrust target… Alphabet then improves its products based on the information it gleans from every user interaction, making its technology even more dominant.” Overall, Alphabet is a prime example of a company who hasn’t used their power irresponsibly. In the end, I cannot predict who will win the trial, however, Alphabet is a force to be reckoned with.

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