DOJ Suit To Break Up Google Was Years in the Making for Antitrust Chief
Monday January 30, 2023. 05:04 PM , from Slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: Jonathan Kanter has been one of Google's main legal foes for nearly 15 years. Last week, as the nation's top antitrust cop, he delivered a threat to break up the internet company. Mr. Kanter, the Justice Department's assistant attorney general for antitrust, filed a lawsuit alleging that Google is an illegal monopolist in the market for brokering ads on the internet. Some of the complaints trace back to early 2000s, when Mr. Kanter started questioning Google's role in the digital economy on behalf of his then-legal clients, including Microsoft.
The 140-page lawsuit, which Google, a unit of Alphabet, has said includes untrue allegations and misstatements about its business, embraces charges the government once wrote off as far-fetched. In 2008, the Federal Trade Commission, which also polices threats to competition, said Google wouldn't be able to smother rivals in the digital-advertising world and declined to block its purchase of DoubleClick, an ad broker that the Justice Department now says Google should be forced to sell. The DOJ's lawsuit alleges that threats the FTC dismissed actually came to pass. The company built a moat around its business matching web publishers' supply of ad space with advertisers' demand, according to the DOJ's lawsuit. When new companies tried to compete or customers sought better deals, Google responded by blocking rivals from its platform or buying them outright and forcing them to work only with its products, the lawsuit alleges.
Mr. Kanter, 49 years old, is one of the leaders of a movement that sees big technology companies including Google, Amazon.com, Facebook parent Meta Platforms and Apple as monopolists in the tradition of the 19th-century railroad and oil companies that inspired the original antitrust laws. 'Today there is nobody in the world who knows more about that business and the antitrust issues surrounding it than Jonathan,' said Charles 'Rick' Rule, who worked with Mr. Kanter in private practice. 'He has been confronting Google for 15 years.' Mr. Kanter has spent most of his legal career in private practice, sometimes defending corporate clients from government investigations, but also representing companies in pressing law enforcers to go after rivals that have grown dominant. He began looking into Google during the 2000s decade on behalf of Microsoft, which the DOJ in 1998 alleged was an illegal monopolist in the personal-computer market in a lawsuit settled in 2001.
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