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The US Department of Justice announced yesterday that, along with 11 states, it has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, charging that it has illegally dominated the search business by using anticompetitive tactics.

Axios writes that "the long-awaited suit is Washington's first major blow against the tech giants that many on both the right and left argue have grown too large and powerful. Still, this is just step one in what could be a lengthy and messy court battle."  The crux of the government's argument is that "Google has unfairly dominated the search market by locking in its search engine as the default in browsers and on mobile devices including Apple iPhones and phones that run Google's own Android operating system."

The Washington Post writes that "in bringing its case, the Justice Department did not explicitly ask a judge to break apart Google. Instead, it urged the court to consider 'structural relief,' which theoretically could include a requirement that the company sell a portion of its business and cease other practices that federal regulators see as harmful and unlawful."

The Wall Street Journal reports that "Google’s partnership with Apple is at the heart of the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit claiming that the Alphabet Inc. unit misused its power in an anticompetitive manner, potentially threatening a major revenue stream for both tech giants.

"It has long been known that Google relies on search traffic from Apple’s popular line of phones. Google’s flagship search engine is the preset default on Apple’s Safari phone browser, meaning that when consumers enter a term on their phone, they are automatically fed Google search results—and related advertising.

"What’s new is just how central it is to both companies, and to the antitrust case. While the government stopped short Tuesday of asking for specific remedies, the prominence of the Apple arrangement in the lawsuit leaves little doubt that the Justice Department will seek to intercede."

The New York Times writes:  "The lawsuit, which may stretch on for years, could set off a cascade of other antitrust lawsuits from state attorneys general. About four dozen states and jurisdictions, including New York and Texas, have conducted parallel investigations and some of them are expected to bring separate complaints against the company’s grip on technology for online advertising."

The Post goes on:  "The Justice Department’s filing alone … serves as a stunning turn of events for Google, marking the first major salvo challenging Silicon Valley’s size in decades. It also follows roughly seven years after the government last probed the company for potential antitrust violations — and opted against suing Google or seeking significant penalties. The inaction in Washington for years had stood in stark contrast to the withering antitrust scrutiny Google has faced in Europe, where competition regulators over the past decade have slapped the Mountain View, California-based tech behemoth with $9 billion in fines.

"Since then, Democrats and Republicans alike have found rare accord in re-examining Google and looking anew at other Silicon Valley tech titans, fearing they have become too big and powerful — and that the U.S. government had fallen far short in its responsibility to police them. The heightened concern has prompted a wave of probes targeting Apple, Amazon and Facebook, as well as a fresh effort to toughen federal antitrust laws in anticipation of future fights."

KC's View:

Trying to analyze this suit is a little above my pay grade, except that it seems clear that this is just a first shot fired in what is likely to be a long-term battle that will envelop not just Google, but also Amazon, Apple and Facebook.

Big Tech clearly is in the crosshairs.

Except that Kara Swisher, a columnist for the New York Times, writes today that "there’s no such thing as a single entity called Big Tech, and just saying it exists will not cut it. The challenges plaguing the tech industry are so complex that it is impossible to take action against one without understanding the entire ecosystem, which hinges on many monster companies, with many big problems, each of which requires a different remedy."