Home Tech US Antitrust Cases Against Big Tech, Explained

US Antitrust Cases Against Big Tech, Explained

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The U.S. government’s landmark antitrust trial against Google’s search business is nearing its conclusion. But the parade of major federal cases challenging Big Tech’s power is just getting going.

Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission started investigating Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta, the parent company of Instagram and WhatsApp, for monopolistic behavior. The government has since sued all four companies — Google twice — in what it says is an effort to rein in their power and promote more competition.

The companies have denied the claims and are fighting back.

Closing arguments wrap up on Friday in Google’s first antitrust suit on allegations that it has a monopoly in internet search. The judge’s ruling, expected in the coming weeks or months, is likely to set precedents for the remaining cases.

Here’s the latest on the state of the U.S. government v. Big Tech.

In September, the F.T.C. and 17 states sued Amazon, accusing it of protecting a monopoly by squeezing sellers on its vast marketplace and favoring its own services. The practices also harmed consumers, the F.T.C. argued, and resulted in some cases of “artificially higher prices” because Amazon prevented those selling goods on its site from offering the same products on other online sites for less.

A judge in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington set the beginning of the trial for October 2026.

Amazon has asked the judge to dismiss the case and has argued that it often offers low prices to consumers and doesn’t hurt sellers on its marketplace. The lawsuit shows a “fundamental misunderstanding of retail,” the company has argued.

The chair of the F.T.C., Lina Khan, who is famous in certain circles for a 2017 Yale Law Journal antitrust paper on how to rein in Amazon, has vowed to take on Big Tech monopolies.

Amazon has described the F.T.C.’s lawsuit as “misguided” and warned that if agency prevailed in its suit, it would “force Amazon to engage in practices that actually harm consumers and the many businesses that sell in our store.”

In March, the Department of Justice sued Apple, accusing the company of using a monopoly in the smartphone market to block competition, inflate prices for consumers and stifle competition. The department joined 15 states and the District of Columbia in its suit after a nearly two-year investigation.

In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court of New Jersey, the department said Apple blocked companies from offering applications that competed with Apple products like cloud-based streaming apps, messaging and the digital wallet.

Apple has said that it plans to file a motion to dismiss the case and that its business decisions don’t violate antitrust laws. It has also argued that those decisions make the iPhone a better experience.

“This lawsuit threatens who we are and the principles that set Apple products apart in fiercely competitive markets,” Apple said in a statement. “We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend against it.”

In addition to the search lawsuit, the Justice Department filed a separate suit against Google in January over online advertising. That case is expected to go to trial in September.

The department and eight states sued in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, saying Google acquired rivals through anticompetitive mergers and bullied publishers and advertisers into using the company’s ad technology.

Last month, Google asked a federal judge to dismiss the case, arguing that the ad technology market is competitive and that the lawsuit could harm innovation and thousands of small businesses that rely on the online advertising market.

In the search lawsuit, if the judge rules against Google, he will need to suggest changes to the company’s business to fix anything determined illegal.

The F.T.C. sued Meta in December 2020, accusing the company of creating a monopoly in social media by buying Instagram and WhatsApp. The mergers deprived consumers of alternative social media platforms, the F.T.C. argued.

The lawsuit has taken more twists and turns that the other Big Tech antitrust cases. It was filed in U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia before the company changed its name to Meta, from Facebook. In 2021, Judge James Boasberg dismissed the complaint, saying the F.T.C. didn’t adequately define the market that it accused Meta of monopolizing. But he allowed the agency to refile its lawsuit, and it moved forward the next year.

The F.T.C. joined 40 states in accusing Facebook of buying both Instagram and WhatsApp more than a decade ago to illegally squash competition that could have one day challenged the company’s dominance. The regulators have called for the deals to be unwound.

Meta has argued that it didn’t acquire Instagram and WhatsApp to kill competition and that it has invested heavily in developing innovations for the apps.



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