State AGs Would Roll Back Two Decades of Search Innovation with Latest Google Lawsuit, Says ITIF

December 17, 2020

WASHINGTON—In response to multiple state Attorneys General (AGs) filing a lawsuit against Google alleging anticompetitive conduct in search, Rob Atkinson, President of ITIF, released the following statement:

The boldest claim in today’s lawsuit is that self-preferencing or demotion of rivals' links amounts to anticompetitive practices with respect to other information aggregators, even though these aggregators' results are listed on “organic” search results and updated regularly to optimize the user experience. 

Indeed, by delivering the information that users are searching for directly in the page with the search results, Google aims at improving the consumer experience based on user preferences and feedback. If successful, the lawsuit today would roll back nearly two decades of search innovation, leaving consumers worse off.

Absent consumer harm, U.S. antitrust enforcement has traditionally been reluctant to sanction products and services of superior efficiency or of greater innovativeness. This third antitrust complaint filed against Google within few weeks constitutes another illustration of the emerging techlash where digital innovation challenges current antitrust concepts. ITIF cautions against the regulatory risks of such complaints, such as both the risks of chilling innovation and the risks of judicial rent-seeking by rivals. Competition on merits entails rewarding commercial success, not sanctioning it as motivated by rivals’ complaints.