Government Kept to Sidelines As Google Got Big. Now It Has Chance to Rein Company Back In. – The Seattle Times

Tap any flight request into Google search and the site will show flight options and prices direct from the tech giant at the top of the page.

The results are highlighted in a box in a premium position, and don’t require users to navigate to another site. The only way a rival shows up above Google’s results in many such searches is if they pay for an ad.

Google critics and rivals have long warned the search engine is threatening countless industries from shopping to travel by consistently pointing people to its own products and services on the biggest search platform on the web. And those competing against Google to win over consumers say that the search engine forces them to pay their biggest rival in advertising dollars just to show up.

Google’s dominance in search has drawn more regulatory scrutiny and criticism from rivals and lawmakers in recent months, something that is expected to culminate in the Department of Justice filing an antitrust suit against the company in the coming weeks. Lawmakers are also preparing new legislation to rein in tech’s power, following the publication this month of a congressional investigation that found Google engaged in anticompetitive tactics.

The case by the Justice Department would be its biggest swing yet to rein in the power of tech giants in decades, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. But some who warned the government a decade ago say it may be too late.

Google “is a monopoly, without question,” Barry Diller, chairman of Expedia and IAC, said in an interview. Google has been great for consumers, Diller said, but it increasingly restricts competitors by making it more expensive to compete in online advertising. Expedia and IAC sites are pushed down the page in favor of Google’s own services, he said.

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