A bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general have sued Google LLC for allegedly deploying illegal, anticompetitive conduct to maintain its monopoly in the general search services and search advertising markets. They also moved to merge their case with the October suit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and 11 states..
The AGs said Google has hurt competition, denied consumers choice, hampered innovation, and even stifled the development of privacy protections. The company’s anti-competitive conduct includes the use of exclusionary contracts (e.g. with Apple), discriminating against specialized search sites (e.g. Expedia, Angie’s List, Yelp), and disadvantaging competitors using its search-engine marketing tool (e.g. Bing), the suit says.
“Google sits at the crossroads of so many areas of our digital economy and has used its dominance to illegally squash competitors, monitor nearly every aspect of our digital lives, and profit to the tune of billions,” said New York Attorney Letitia James. “Through its illegal conduct, the company has ensured that hundreds of millions of people turn to Google first when looking for an answer, but it doesn’t take a web search to understand that unchecked corporate power shouldn’t have disproportionate control over our data and information. For decades now, Google has served as the gatekeeper of the internet and has weaponized our data to kill off competitors and control our decision making — resulting in all of us paying more for the services we use every day.”
In addition to dominating the search market, Google has expanded into online advertising technologies, cloud computing, software, and hardware. “Google has left behind its tech-startup origins and built itself into a web-ecosystem behemoth, maintaining its monopolies using multiple forms of anticompetitive conduct in the general search and search advertising-related markets,” AG James said.
The AGs say their suit mirrors the DOJ complaint filed on Oct. 20, 2020, but goes further and should be combined with the federal government-led action.
AGs from several states formed an executive committee: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Joining those states are: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.
Another case filed this week against Google was brought in Texas by AGs from 10 states: Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah. Texas is taking the lead in that case, but is not listed in the DC case. Listed in both suits are: Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The AGs in the DC case are both Democratic and Republican, while the Texas case has been brought by Republican AGs.
The AGs who joined the DOJ case are from: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.
No state is listed in all three actions.
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