The Justice Department accuses Google of maintaining an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising. This includes Google’s payment of billions of dollars to Apple to place the Google search engine as the default for iPhones. Google, which controls about 80 percent of search queries in the United States, struck agreements with phone makers using Alphabet’s Android operating system to pre-load the search engine on their phones and make it hard for rival search engines to become a replacement. Competition and innovation has suffered, it’s said. Attorney General William P. Barr, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, has played an unusually active role in the investigation. The lawsuit may stretch on for years and could set off a cascade of other antitrust lawsuits from state attorneys general.
Google has long denied accusations of antitrust violations and is expected to fight the government’s efforts by using a global network of lawyers, economists and lobbyists. It controls 90 percent of the market for online searches, according to one estimate. That business is lucrative: Last year, Google brought in $34.3 billion in search revenue in the United States, according to the research firm eMarketer. The European Union has brought three antitrust cases against Google in recent years, focused on its search engine, advertising business and Android mobile operating system.