The Justice Department is facing calls by Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin to look over the clout and power technology firms including Google have over the economy in the U.S.
Bloomberg, according to comments Mnuchin made on a “60 Minutes” segment focused on claims that Alphabet’s Google has a monopoly when it comes to online search, reported that while there weren’t any new allegations, the Treasury Secretary’s calls for scrutiny comes at a time when the public is growing increasingly concerned with the power of a few technology companies.
“These issues deserve to be reviewed carefully,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview when asked about the segment. “These are issues the Justice Department needs to look at seriously, not for any one company, but as these technology companies have a greater and greater impact on the economy.”
According to Bloomberg, the “60 Minutes” report focused on how rivals such as Yelp are trying to bring the antitrust approach to Google in Europe to the U.S. Margrethe Vestager, the European Union competition commissioner, said she is focused on stopping what she called illegal behavior on the part of Google, which implies she is not happy with the solutions Google offered up last year.
“You have to look at the power they have, and it’s something the Justice Department, I hope, takes a serious look at,” Mnuchin said, according to Bloomberg. He noted that “issues of monopolies are out of my lane” and that it is the job of the Justice Department to review any antitrust violations.
In late July, Google was ordered by the European Union to pay 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in fines after the European Union’s financial enforcers determined Google manipulated its search results so as to benefit its own shopping services — to the disadvantage of other services. Apart from the hefty fine, the European Commission gave Google 90 days to “stop its illegal conduct” and offer other price comparison services the chance to compete on a balanced playing field.
“Google’s strategy for its comparison-shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals,” said Vestager at the time. “It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And, most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services.”
The ruling found that Google does not apply its own shopping service to its algorithm — which ranks search results on quality and relevance to the user — and that this constitutes a very unfair advantage.