Technology

Closing arguments in the Google antitrust case come to an end and produce a landmark ruling

A groundbreaking antitrust trial v. Google concluded Friday after a federal judge heard final arguments, setting the stage for a ruling that could fundamentally alter the power of the tech industry.

“The importance and importance of this case is not lost on me, not only for Google but also for the public,” Judge Amit P. Mehta said in the final moments of the proceedings on Friday. He thanked the lawyers who argued the case, then added: “I guess you’ve passed the baton to us.”

Now he must decide the case in which the Justice Department and state attorneys general say Google abused a monopoly in the search business by stifling competitors and limiting innovation, which the company denies.

During the two days of closing arguments Judge Mehta The judge at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia did not announce how he plans to rule. He grilled both sides, often relying on witness statements and evidence from last year’s 10-week trial to fill holes in their arguments. He also demanded that they explain how their positions align with important legal precedents.

As the trial ended Friday, Kenneth Dintzer, the Justice Department’s chief trial attorney, said: argued that if antitrust laws Because the company cannot “unfreeze” a search business dominated by Google, the company’s practices will continue into the future.

John E. Schmidtlein, Google’s lead attorney countered that a ruling in favor of the government would be “an unprecedented decision to punish a company for winning the case.”

Judge Mehta’s ruling in the coming weeks or months will likely influence the course of events other state antitrust lawsuits against Apple, Amazon and Meta, the owner of Instagram and WhatsApp, as US regulators try to rein in their power.

The government argues that Google illegally cemented a search monopoly by paying Apple and other technology partners billions of dollars to integrate the Google search engine into their products.

On Friday, discussion focused on the government’s second claim, that the company also has a monopoly on the ads that appear in search results.

Google pointed to other companies competing in search and advertising.

“Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Amazon – all of these companies have very, very detailed and very useful information that allows them to offer advertisers many, many different ways to reach the consumer groups they are most interested in.” , Mr. Schmidtlein argued.

Judge Mehta asked the Justice Department to explain why search ads are so different from ads on Facebook and other social platforms.

“How does this fit with reality?” he asked. “It can’t be that Facebook’s advertising platform is an inferior product and they’re making billions of dollars.”

Judge Mehta also mentioned the success of TikTok, which he said has a “pretty good advertising platform” and is growing. He said he spent some time using TikTok search to research the case.

In an apparent nod to national security concerns about the app, he added: “Not that I have it on my phone, just to be clear.”

The government also said the judge should sanction Google over a company policy that automatically turns off history for workplace chats, arguing that the policy resulted in the destruction of evidence. Mr Dintzer said the court needed to “say this is wrong” to stop Google from hiding evidence in the future. A lawyer for Google, Colette T. Connor, denied that the company did anything inappropriate.

“Let me be completely honest,” Judge Mehta said. “Google’s document retention policy leaves a lot to be desired.”

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