Google's Chrome Antitrust Paradox

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See all articles by Shaoor Munir

Shaoor Munir

University of California, Davis

Konrad Kollnig

Law and Tech Lab, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University

Anastasia Shuba

Independent Researcher

Zubair Shafiq

University of California, Davis

Date Written: February 15, 2024

Abstract

This article delves into Google’s dominance of the browser market, highlighting how Google’s Chrome browser is playing a critical role in asserting Google’s dominance in other markets. While Google perpetuates the perception that Google Chrome is a neutral platform built on open-source technologies, we argue that Chrome is instrumental in Google’s strategy to reinforce its dominance in online advertising, publishing, and the browser market itself. Our examination of Google’s strategic acquisitions, anti-competitive practices, and the implementation of so-called “privacy controls,” shows that Chrome is far from a neutral gateway to the web. Rather, it serves as a key tool for Google to maintain and extend its market power, often to the detriment of competition and innovation.

We examine how Chrome not only bolsters Google’s position in advertising and publishing through practices such as coercion, self-preferencing, it also helps leverage its advertising clout to engage in a “pay-to-play” paradigm, which serves as a cornerstone in Google’s larger strategy of market control. We also discuss potential regulatory interventions and remedies, drawing on historical antitrust precedents. We propose a triad of solutions motivated from our analysis of Google’s abuse of Chrome: behavioral remedies targeting specific anti-competitive practices, structural remedies involving an internal separation of Google’s divisions, and divestment of Chrome from Google.

Despite Chrome’s dominance and its critical role in Google’s ecosystem, it has escaped antitrust scrutiny—a gap our article aims to bridge. Addressing this gap is instrumental to solve current market imbalances and future challenges brought on by increasingly hegemonizing technology firms, ensuring a competitive digital environment that nurtures innovation and safeguards consumer interests.

Keywords: Antitrust, Chrome, Google, Privacy

Suggested Citation

Munir, Shaoor and Kollnig, Konrad and Shuba, Anastasia and Shafiq, Zubair, Google's Chrome Antitrust Paradox (February 15, 2024). Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, Vol. 27, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Shaoor Munir

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Apt 153
Davis, CA 95616
United States

HOME PAGE: http://shaoormunir.com

Konrad Kollnig

Law and Tech Lab, Faculty of Law, Maastricht University ( email )

Bouillonstraat 1–3
Maastricht, 6211 LH
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://kollnig.net/

Anastasia Shuba

Independent Researcher

HOME PAGE: http://nshuba.github.io/

Zubair Shafiq (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

HOME PAGE: http://web.cs.ucdavis.edu/~zubair/

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