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An analysis of potential remedies to address Google’s search monopoly

This analysis considers five potential remedies to restore competition if Google is found by the court to have maintained its search monopoly illegally as alleged by the DOJ (Department of Justice) in its 2020 lawsuit against Google. We consider requiring Google to supply syndicated results on fair reasonable and non-discriminatory terms , requiring that Google provides access to click and query data, constraining Google’s default payments to Apple, mandating choice screens on Android phones, and requiring Google to divest Chrome.

In our view any proposed remedies should be proportionate and targeted at the alleged illegal conduct, easily implementable and monitored given available resources and expertise, and timely and effective in restoring competitive conditions to the affected markets while avoiding unintended adverse effects on consumers. Based on these criteria we recommend a combination of:

  • Requiring Google to provide syndication contracts with improved terms and conditions which do not restrict the syndicators’ ability to innovate, differentiate their services, and develop a unique offering; and
  • Restricting Google from making payments to Apple to be the default search engine on any search access point on Apple devices; and
  • Mandating choice screens for Android phones covering all search access points including Chrome.

We conclude that while Google with over 90% of general search market share worldwide is a monopoly, general search as a service need not be a monopoly. Targeted remedies that remove barriers for competing search engines to grow – gain scale and users – could help undo the competitive harms caused by Google’s search monopoly and lead to a more competitive general search market.