The aggressively “Not Chickenshit” DOJ could have an opportunity to prove their chops in a close to home way. Like in a could directly impact the way you use the internet on your phone and laptop sort of way. Most people surf Al Gore’s internet using the web browsers Chrome (Google) or Safari (Apple). These default seeming options are skewing the browser marketplace in their favor — smaller browsers are trying to push back.
The Chrome browser hosts almost two-thirds of internet activity worldwide and is an important driver of traffic to Google’s lucrative search engine. The company has at times held back new features that risked reducing traffic to the search engine, said people familiar with the decisions. The Google spokesman said the company regularly experiments with new features in Chrome and gives priority to user experience, performance and security when making product decisions.
“Google is incentivized to make Chrome one big Google search box,” said Josh Miller, chief executive officer of the Browser Company of New York Inc., which is creating a competing product named Arc that he said aims to serve the workflows and needs of the average internet user.
Controlling ~60% of a market share that funnels you LOADS of information to your search engine is the type of behavior that should set alarms blaring in the ears of competent antitrust attorneys. And while it is true that it is Google’s interests to tweak Chrome to be at the cutting edge of user experience, businesses cutting out competition for extra profit is a tale at least as old as the Sherman Act.
Some competitors have said that Google, which faces a Justice Department lawsuit targeting its dominance in online search, has used subtle cues and tricks that make it more difficult for third-party search engines and browsers to distribute their products through Chrome. A Google spokesman disputed complaints that Chrome interferes with competitors.
Several startups are also trying to break in, claiming they can make the browser experience more app-friendly and in hopes that the competitive landscape is shifting. Microsoft has mounted a new push with its Edge browser, which effectively replaced Internet Explorer.
Microsoft having a browser that is capable of being up to date and competing with other browsers is a bit of a joke — much like any other mention of Microsoft. My personal favorite (and only) use of Edge is to download Firefox, but hey, it could be the case that the old dog has learned a new trick.
It is too early to figure out what the Brave New World of the internet post more browser wars would look like. Will you be reading Above the Law’s hot takes in Brave? Reading an article about Amazon surveillance bots in Tor? Time will tell. If the DOJ isn’t too chickenshit to target a global tech giant or two, that is.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at email@example.com and by tweet at @WritesForRent.