Mozilla worried it could be collateral damage in Google anti-trust suit

Any potential enforcement action should not cause unintended harm to smaller players, the Firefox-maker states.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Mozilla has published its initial reaction to the anti-trust case from the US Department of Justice (DoJ) against Google's alleged illegal search monopoly.

To properly interpret the missive, it is crucial to understand that Google has been the long-time primary funder of Firefox development thanks to its search deals with Mozilla. The latest deal is in the order of $400 million each year.

Mozilla's chief legal officer Amy Keating responded to the search deal being cited by the DoJ in its suit.

"The ultimate outcomes of an antitrust lawsuit should not cause collateral damage to the very organisations -- like Mozilla -- best positioned to drive competition and protect the interests of consumers on the web," Keating said.

"Unintended harm to smaller innovators from enforcement actions will be detrimental to the system as a whole, without any meaningful benefit to consumers -- and is not how anyone will fix Big Tech."

Keating added that the creation of Mozilla was "closely tied" to the anti-trust action against Microsoft from over 20 years ago, explaining that remedies should look at the "ecosystem in its entirety".

Google has also responded to the suit, saying the complaint was "without merit" and would be defended vigorously.

"People use Google because they choose to, not because they're forced to, or because they can't find alternatives," Google senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker said.

"This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. 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."

In the law suit, the DoJ labelled Google as "the gatekeeper of the internet" for both users and advertisers, as it accounts for 90% of all searches in the US.

"Google has entered into a series of exclusionary agreements that collectively lock up the primary avenues through which users access search engines, and thus the internet, by requiring that Google be set as the preset default general search engine on billions of mobile devices and computers worldwide and, in many cases, prohibiting preinstallation of a competitor," the DoJ said.

"Through filing the lawsuit, the Department seeks to stop Google's anticompetitive conduct and restore competition for American consumers, advertisers, and all companies now reliant on the internet economy."

In August, Mozilla laid off around 250 employees, with CEO Mitchell Baker saying the organisation needed to adapt its finances to a post-COVID-19 world

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