Last night, 60 Minutes aired a segment that aimed to shine a light on antitrust questions raised by Google’s growing marketplace power. In the wake of the story, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked about Google and the internet economy when he stopped by CNBC on Monday morning.
“You have to look at the power they have, and it’s something the Justice Department, I hope, takes a serious look at,” Mnuchin said, though he added that “issues of monopolies are out of my lane” and that it’s up to the DOJ to review antitrust violations.
That said, Mnuchin’s response was very much that of a politician—vague, flexible enough to interpret in any direction, and easy to backpedal on, if necessary. “These issues deserve to be reviewed carefully,” Mnuchin said in the CNBC interview. “These are issues the Justice Department needs to look at seriously, not for any one company, but as these technology companies have a greater and greater impact on the economy.”
While Google had no further comment on the story, a representative referred us to the statement it sent 60 Minutes. In it, Google denied being a monopoly in search or search advertising, citing many competitors, including Amazon and Facebook. It also claimed it does not make changes to its algorithm to disadvantage competitors. “[O]ur responsibility is to deliver the best results possible to our users, not specific placements for sites within our results,” Google says. “We understand that those sites whose ranking falls will be unhappy and may complain publicly.”
Investors don’t seem bothered by the story as Google’s stock is creeping slowly upwards today.