It’s finally happened: The Department of Justice has filed a landmark antitrust suit against Google over its domination of the online search and ad industry. DOJ claims Google’s corporate behavior is anticompetitive, and that its online practices threaten any alternative services from gaining a foothold.
This new case is the largest antitrust suit in years, and may even rival the historic antitrust case against Microsoft in 1998. Depending on the outcome, we may even see legal action — and potential breakups — of some of the biggest names in tech.
Beyond this game-changing lawsuit, Google has another big problem on its hands: Its Chrome browser was caught saving user data from searches and YouTube after users changed settings to prevent this. This means no matter what privacy settings you put in place, Google was still able to track you. Here’s what you can do about it.
Google keeps on tracking — even when you tell it to stop
A new report from The Register says Google exempts its own sites (Google.com and YouTube.com) from privacy settings related to ad tracking. If you adjust your settings to delete cookies and site data automatically, Google outright ignores your choices and keeps on tracking you.
In response to the accusation, Google denied the problem was intentional. Instead, it claims the issue is related to a bug found in Chrome — one that would be fixed by an update in the coming days.
In recent years, Google has become increasingly dodgy with how it handles user data. It’s been sued by several groups for hanging on to user data despite claiming not to. The company was even caught storing Google Assistant recordings without permission.
And if that wasn’t enough to make Google look fishy, the company famously dropped the phrase “Don’t be evil” from its code of conduct back in 2018. Real talk: Does that make them more honest or less?
How can I get Google to stop storing my search and YouTube data?
If Google is to be believed, an updated version of Chrome will soon be available that fixes the issue. But in the meantime, there is a workaround to get Google to stop tracking you on its own sites.
This fix, which involves blacklisting Google and YouTube from using cookies, was developed by programmer Jeff Johnson — who is credited for discovering the tracking bug in Chrome. Here’s how you can adjust your browser settings until the fix is available:
- Open Chrome and click the three-dot icon in the upper-right corner of your browser window.
- Click Settings, followed by Privacy and Security from the left-hand sidebar.
- Click Add and enter Google.com. Click the checkbox next to Including third-party cookies on this site. Click Add to save these settings.
- Repeat the step above for YouTube.com.
Following these steps will prevent Google and YouTube from using any cookies whatsoever. This means you may need to log in again every time you visit, but it’s better than being tracked without your permission.
What does the DOJ lawsuit against Google mean for the Tech Industry?
Google is no stranger to legal drama, but between the landmark antitrust case and issues like the one mentioned above, it’s logical to conclude that its troubles are just beginning.
This antitrust case comes at a time of reckoning for the Tech Industry at large. Nearly every major company is dealing with some kind of legal action right now — including Amazon, which is accused of violating Illinois law when it records bystanders and children incidentally through Alexa.
What could all these lawsuits lead to? Judging by history, we may see a first-of-its-kind breakup of many tech companies into smaller ones. Imagine if Google, YouTube and Nest were no longer part of the same gigantic company anymore, or if Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were no longer under the same umbrella.
A big breakup may reduce the power of some of these massive tech companies, and may leave more room for competitors to emerge. Still, the tech lobby is quite powerful — with deep pockets and industry-friendly politicians. It may be a while before we know the true outcome of this turning point in tech history.
But as of now, all eyes are on the Department of Justice as it makes its case for reducing Google’s dominance. We’ll be updating our readers on this important story as more details continue to emerge.