Google has been accused of abusing its market position and maintaining an illegal monopoly over internet searches by the US Department of Justice.
In what is the biggest move yet against the power of the big four technology firms, the DoJ’s suit alleges that Google effectively locks out the competition in the internet search business.
Sources in the Justice Department quoted by the Wall Street Journal said that the lawsuit will also challenge how Google’s search engine is embedded on mobile phones running the Android operating system.
The US move follows a step-up in actions against the major tech firms by the European Union and comes a year after the DoJ and Federal Trade Commission started an investigation into the combined power of Google, Amazon.com, Apple and Facebook.
The EU has already fined Google more than US$9bn in three different actions related to blocking access to advertisers and Android.
Google handles around 80% of US internet search enquiries, which the company posting revenues of US$162bn last year.
The DoJ’s action is the first time since 1998 when Microsoft was sued that the US government has used the 1890 Sherman anti-trust law to accuse a company of operating a monopoly.
AT&T was also broken up into regional Bell companies through the use of the Act.
President Trump has hardened his stance on ‘big tech’ recently following a report that Big Tech was hurting both the US economy and free speech having previously and famously criticised the EU for fining a ‘great’ US company.
Shares in Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Google’s parent company, reacted calmly to the news, which had been expected.
Analysts suggested that given the animosity between the US political parties any concerted action would be hard to achieve.
Shares rose 0.6% to US$1,538.64.