For years, critics have argued that big technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook have too much power and often abuse their dominant market position. But historically, government efforts to contain powerful technology companies have been highly challenging. In Europe, regulators have filed three different antitrust actions against Google in the past 10 years and imposed fines of up to $9.46 billion in response to complaints about Googles price comparison service, Android mobile operating system and Adsense platform.
Christian Bergqvist, a law professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said the US antitrust action showed that the US government had adopted a European style approach of being suspicious of technology giants, but it could be too late. We are converging in a very positive way to some extent, he admits Nevertheless, he believes that Europes actions provide a warning lesson for US antitrust enforcement.
In a study published last month, an academic advising Googles European rivals said the companys price comparison service was still flouting EU rules. Google denied the charge. However, it is obvious that the huge fine for many years has limited impact on the European market. Googles Chrome browser has a larger market share in Europe than in the United States, and Android still dominates.
The United States has also produced mixed results in antitrust lawsuits against large technology companies. Microsoft basically won the government in the 1990s, but many industry analysts believe that the trouble that the company had in the early 21st century was largely due to the pressure from the anti monopoly case. Similarly, the government eventually lifted the anti-monopoly lawsuit against IBM in the 1980s, although the company was then in a difficult position.
The spin off of at & T in 1984 is a good example. This case led to a large-scale restructuring of the U.S. telecommunications business, which had a wide impact on consumers and businesses. Many critics believe that the fine forget approach to regulation of large technology companies is a failure, and they are pushing for more solutions like at & T splitting.
Asked on a conference call on Tuesday about specific actions to be taken, Ryan shores, an official with the Department of justice, said, nothing is impossible.. But legal observers are skeptical about whether government lawyers will push for a spin off. Bergquist said Googles services were organized into a series of loss making moats to protect its cash cow (advertising). Even if some of these moats are acquired by competitors or transformed into independent enterprises, it is difficult to see how they can survive on their own.
Experts believe that even if Google is not actively split up, the governments victory or settlement is likely to change the way Google works, but the impact may be very limited. Google may be affected by this, but its market position in many areas is unlikely to change substantially, said Jonathan Rubin, who specializes in antitrust law (small)
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