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Google slammed for 'monopoly power' in new antitrust lawsuit from 35 states

Taylor Hatmaker
·2-min read
MOUNTAIN VIEW, UNITED STATES - 2020/02/23: American multinational technology company Google logo seen at Google campus. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Another day, another major antitrust effort seeking to dismantle the unprecedented power of the world's biggest tech companies.

On Thursday, a group of 38 attorneys general announced a bipartisan lawsuit against Google, alleging the company has engaged in "illegal, anti-competitive conduct" to create a monopoly in search and search advertising.

"Google’s anti-competitive actions have protected its general search monopolies and excluded rivals, depriving consumers of the benefits of competitive choices, forestalling innovation, and undermining new entry or expansion," Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said. “This lawsuit seeks to restore competition.”

The state of Colorado is co-leading the lawsuit with Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. New York Attorney General Letitia James called Google the "gatekeeper of the internet" and slammed the company for leveraging the personal data it collects to solidify its market dominance.

Compared to the Texas-led suit against Google announced yesterday, the second lawsuit represents a broader coalition of 35 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. The new lawsuit, embedded below, will run in parallel with the Justice Department's own federal suit, which also alleges that the company has abused its power to create and maintain a monopoly.

In the new lawsuit, the group of states accuses Google of entering into exclusionary agreements, disadvantaging specialized search sites like Expedia and Yelp and favoring its own business with its search engine marketing tools. They describe Google's power as self-reinforcing, blaming the company for limiting consumers' options and in turn feeding it more valuable data on their behavior.

Citing violations of Section 2 of the Sherman Act, the federal antitrust law meant to protect competition, the group of states asks the court to rebalance the advantages that Google enjoys and suggests "structural divestitures" as one course of action.

Unlike the 46-state suit against Facebook we saw last week, U.S. state efforts to challenge Google were split in two. Why are there two separate antitrust lawsuits going after Google over similar complaints? Likely because many state leaders weren't eager to sign on to an effort led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who not only led the doomed long-shot effort to overturn election results in four states but is also currently being investigated by the FBI for bribery.

In a blog post, Google responded to the allegations presented in the new suit, emphasizing the company's positive impact on consumers and small businesses."...This lawsuit seeks to redesign Search in ways that would deprive Americans of helpful information and hurt businesses’ ability to connect directly with customers," Adam Cohen, Google's Director of Economic Policy, wrote. "We look forward to making that case in court, while remaining focused on delivering a high-quality search experience for our users."

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