To grasp the significance of the suit, think back to the Obama administration’s decision not to take antitrust action against Google in 2012, despite the urging of career officials at the Federal Trade Commission. If Barr’s suit seems driven by politics, so was the Obama-era inaction. Google had built a sturdy alliance with the Obama White House. Its employees contributed more to Obama’s reelection campaign than any other company, except Microsoft. That campaign contracted with a firm owned by Google’s chair, Eric Schmidt, for data analytics—and on Election Night in Chicago, Schmidt personally oversaw the analysis operation.
For a time, Google mastered the byways of Washington with its army of lobbyists. It helped shape the capital’s attitude toward Silicon Valley. Washington accepted Google’s monopoly, because it swallowed the company’s arguments about so-called network effects. That is, elite opinion came to believe that the architecture of the internet made it natural