A California judge has ruled video service Rumble can proceed with the first steps of an antitrust lawsuit against Google. Rumble sued Google in 2021, alleging it favored its own YouTube video platform in search results and the Android operating system. Google urged the court to split the lawsuit’s arguments and reject substantial parts of the reasoning as well as parts of the lawsuit related to the pre-installation of the Android app. Judge Haywood Gilliam declined to do so late last week, putting the case on track to go forward – although it could still be thrown out before it reaches trial.
Rumble’s costume straddles several ongoing Big Tech controversies. The company takes aim at Google’s agreements with Android phone makers, which typically agree to preinstall bundles of Google apps and limit preinstalls of non-Google apps or OS changes, sometimes a way that antitrust watchdogs have ruled illegal. It also alleges that Google unfairly loads the top search results of videos with YouTube links, burying Rumble results — similar to complaints fabricated by “vertical” search engine providers over the past few decades.
“The success of Rumble…has been far less than it could and should have been as a direct result of Google’s illegal anti-competitive, exclusionary and monopoly behavior,” the complaint alleges.
Rumble is also part of a web-friendly ecosystem that has catered (with varying levels of exclusivity) to right-wing users who claim to have been censored on larger platforms like Google. He filed his lawsuit around the same time alternative social network Parler tried to sue Amazon over antitrust concerns, but while that lawsuit made some pretty tenuous claims about competition, Rumble plays on concerns widely. recognized regarding the Google ecosystem. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have both pushed for legislation that could limit the kind of “self-preference” described in the complaint.
In its response to Rumble’s lawsuit, Google alleges that Rumble content is ranked as high as it deserves. “Rival search engines like Microsoft Bing, Yahoo Search and DuckDuckGo each return similar results to Google – they also rank YouTube videos ahead of Rumble,” he says. “Google attempts to return search results that are most likely to satisfy consumers, whether or not those results include content found on Google’s YouTube service. »
Judge Gilliam said Google’s arguments were not compelling enough to justify withdrawing significant parts of the Rumble case. But whether they survive a later motion for summary judgment or a warrant for trial, Gilliam says, “is a matter for a later stage of the case.”