Google’s antitrust lawsuit will soon land in the hands of the Biden administration. Here’s why experts think the new government may pursue it even more aggressively. (GOOGL)

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Summary List Placement

On December 14 2016, a group of Silicon Valley luminaries entered Trump Tower to meet with the then-president-elect. The lineup, which included Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet’s then-CEO Larry Page and its executive chairman Eric Schmidt, was hailed by Trump as “a truly amazing group of people.”

The shine soon wore off. That meeting marked the start of what would be a fraught four-year relationship between big tech and the Trump presidency, culminating in the Justice Department bringing an antitrust lawsuit against Google last month, which accuses the company of using exclusionary tactics in its search business to disadvantage competitors.

But a change of guard is unlikely to hurt the lawsuit, which could be pursued even more aggressively under the new administration, academics and analysts say.

Eleven Republican state AGs have signed onto the DOJ lawsuit, but support for antitrust action against Google is largely bipartisan. A group of seven Democratic and Republican states are expected to file a separate case that could merge with the federal one, while another state case in Texas, focusing on Google’s advertising technology, could follow.

House Democrats recently published a wide-ranging antitrust report that proposed overhauling US law to make it easier to break up big tech companies. When the Google lawsuit was filed a few weeks later, Congressman David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, called it “long overdue.”

Emboldened by this push for antitrust action on both sides of the aisle, several experts said they expect a Biden administration to pursue the Google suit and potentially expand it.

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“I don’t think Biden will change the policy of this case. It was a straightforward complaint,” said Jeffrey Jacobovitz, an antitrust lawyer at Arnall Golden Gregory. 

“I actually think the DOJ will be more aggressive under Biden than under Trump.”

The DOJ lawsuit, which dropped just two weeks before Election Day, raised some eyebrows over its political motivations due to its timing — and because only Republican AGs signed on. This could give Biden a get-out, but experts told Business Insider they aren’t convinced this is a strong enough of an argument amidst broader antitrust sentiment among Democrats.

“The government’s case against IBM [in 1969] was filed on the final day of the Johnson administration,” said Gary Rebeck, a Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer who spearheaded the Microsoft antitrust case in the 1990s.

“It is always the case that the people in the government would like to have more time. The kind of friction you’re seeing there I would characterize as more normal.”

A shift from the Obama era

The Obama administration had a close relationship with big tech, and with Google in particular. In 2016, The Intercept reported on hundreds of meetings between White House officials and Google during Obama’s presidency, as well as a revolving door of people moving between jobs at Google and the federal government.

Biden hasn’t prioritized antitrust as part of his campaign, but has suggested that he disagrees with how Obama worked with Silicon Valley, …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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