Don’t get us wrong, we love technology. We use it every day! The amazing advancements that have been made over the last decade have changed the way we live. However, over the last few years, people are questioning the lack of regulation and monopolization of “Big Tech” companies. Let’s look at what is currently going on in the industry and what the future might look like for Big Tech.
What’s Happening with Google?
On Tuesday October 20, 2020, the Justice Department sued Google over allegations that they violated federal antitrust laws after a year-long investigation. In a 57-page document, they accused Google of locking out the competition in search by obtaining several exclusive contracts and agreements. These deals, like the one they have with Apple, made it so Google was the default search engine option for users. They say that these special agreements allowed them to capture the market for nearly 80% of all search inquires in the U.S.
Google’s chief legal officer, Kent Walker, made a statement saying the lawsuit was deeply flawed. “People use Google because they choose to—not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.” He then said that if the lawsuit is successful it would result in higher prices for consumers because Google will have to raise the cost of its software and hardware.
What Does This Mean for Big Tech?
Big Tech companies have become regulars in the courtroom over the last few years. In July, the CEO’s of Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook all appeared before congress to defend themselves against accusations that their companies have too much power. Facebook was also in court this spring defending themselves against claims saying they violated user’s privacy.
Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook make up over one-firth of the S&P 500 and 46% of the Nasdaq 100. There is no denying the power these companies have, but as we continue to investigate, we can also recognize the value these companies provide to our lives. The 2020 pandemic has seen a huge increase in online shopping and Amazon is thriving in the new state of the world. Online learning has been made possible by companies like Google and Microsoft. Social media has allowed us to feel close to, and build communities with people we haven’t been able to physically see. Big Tech is so ingrained in our lives that it isn’t going anywhere.
What Changes Can We Expect?
Tech companies being challenged for their power isn’t a new thing. Historically, these cases have not been very successful in breaking up these companies. In 1956, the Bell System faced a 7-year legal saga but was left intact. Antitrust action was taken against IBM that lasted 13 years and had the same outcome. In 2002 Microsoft reached a settlement with the government after a 3-year circulation through the court system, where the government argued that Microsoft was creating a monopoly by bundling programs into Microsoft’s dominate operating system.
In conclusion, we can expect this lawsuit against Google to be a long and drawn out process. The tech industry is constantly changing and evolving at a rate that is hard to keep up with. While concerns of privacy, competition, and safety have publicly increased over the last few years, we still do not know the correct action to take. 2020 has been full of changes and we will see how this lawsuit plays out, probably over the next few years. Until then we will all keep learning and adapting.