On Tuesday evening, the US Justice Department and 11 states filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google’s parent company Alphabet, accusing the firm of illegally stifling competition for its own gains. 

This comes at the heels of a Congressional Hearing, where CEOs of the largest technology companies testified before Congress that their market dominance was earned from merit rather than illegally obtained like the Justice Department claims.

Although unlikely, the lawsuit could lead to a breakup of the decades-long monopoly that firms like Alphabet hold in their respective industries.

Critics of Google claim that Google’s dominance prevents competition from entering the market, thereby reducing innovation in the sector. Furthermore, with Google acting as the gatekeeper of the internet, this gives Google too much power over what information people can and can’t access, potentially leading to widespread misinformation which , for example could be used to influence voters in the future.

However, Google disagrees, saying that this “deeply flawed” lawsuit will harm consumers more than it will harm Google. They claim that by breaking up Google, consumers will end up paying higher prices and using a lower quality search engine. “People use Google because they choose to, not because they are forced to”, Kent Walker, SVP of Global Affairs at Google, wrote in a blogpost.

Alphabet’s share price remained unchanged, perhaps signifying that investors do not believe that anything will come from this lawsuit.

This is an interesting move by the Justice Department, who previously held a more laissez-faire approach to the monopolies of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. With upcoming Presidential Elections in the US, the timing of this move could be brought into question: perhaps this is just an attempt by the Trump administration to win over undecided voters who are looking for a more pro-consumer President. However, with bipartisan support from both the Democrats and Republicans (a rarity nowadays), this lawsuit is less likely to be politically motivated, and more to do with the real problems competition face when trying to enter this highly dominated industry.