Sen. Amy Klobuchar calls Google's defense of its search dominance 'offensive' and 'defiant'

By Avery Hartmans

Sen. Amy Klobuchar called out Google's defense of its search dominance, calling it "defiant to the Justice Department."

Klobuchar's comments came during Wednesday's Senate hearing on Section 230, the law that states tech companies cannot be held liable for content published on their platforms. While questioning Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Klobuchar mentioned the other major issue Google is currently facing: an antitrust lawsuit from the Department of Justice. 

The suit, which was filed last week, accuses Google of using illegal business deals to harm smaller competitors. Google fired back, calling the suit "deeply flawed" and harmful to consumers. 

"This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers," Google's senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, wrote. "To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use."

Klobuchar said this response was "offensive." 

"I have not really liked your response to the lawsuit and what's been happening," Klobuchar said. "I think your response isn't just offensive, it's been defiant to the Justice Department and suits all over the world."

Klobuchar asked Pichai whether he sees the company's practices as anticompetitive, given its control over the search advertising market and the search engine market more broadly. 

Pichai said Google sees "robust competition" in multiple categories. "We invest significantly in R&D, we are innovating, we are lowering prices in all the markets we are operating in," Pichai said. 

Klobuchar is the ranking member on the Senate judiciary subcommittee on antitrust and competition, and said she hopes to be able to question Pichai further on matters of antitrust in the future. 

Google is expected to fight the government's suit, which could lead to a years-long court battle. A win by the government could lead to Google restructuring or separating components of its business; a win by Google could set a legal precedent for tech companies facing antitrust scrutiny in the future. 

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