The lawsuit accuses Google of manipulating search results – including anti-competitive practices – to discriminate against its competitors and generate profits for its own products.
A coalition of 38 attorneys general has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the tech giant of suppressing its competition.
According to The Verge, the lawsuit was announced earlier this week by Colorado’s Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser and his Conservative Nebraska counterpart Doug Peterson. Together, the two alleged that Google had engaged in various anti-competitive practices. One of the main claims of the suit is that Google returns search results in such a way that its own products are preferred over everyone else.
“Google sells advertising to a few specialized vertical providers, but depending on the business segment, unnecessarily restricts their usefulness,” the lawsuit said. “And because of its monopoly power, Google extracts huge amounts of proprietary customer data from some specialized vertical vendors for Google to compete against.”
For example, Google has been accused of benefiting from travel agencies and flight booking websites while indirectly encouraging users to search for air fares using their own Google Flights services.
Likewise, searching for “hotels near me” can lead consumers to a Google aggregator.
Google. Image via Flickr / User: Kristina Alexanderson. (CCA-BY-2.0).
In a separate statement, New York AG said Letitia James – a Democrat – that Google took advantage of its strong market position.
“Google is at the crossroads of so many areas of our digital economy and has used its dominance to illegally suppress competitors, monitor nearly every aspect of our digital lives, and make billions of dollars,” said James.
James went on to say that she and her colleagues would like the courts to put a stop to Google’s activities and “restore a competitive market”.
In order to rebalance the digital market, James hopes to “counter any advantage Google has gained from its anti-competitive behavior”. Similar to another large-scale lawsuit against Facebook, it means that Google may be forced to divest.
In response to the lawsuit, Adam Cohen, Google’s director of economic policy, suggested that the attorneys general try to deny Americans access to a successful, high-quality product.
“We know that auditing big companies is important and we’re ready to answer questions and solve the problems,” said Cohen. “However, this lawsuit seeks to reshape Search in a way that deprives Americans of useful information and affects companies’ ability to interact directly with customers. We look forward to hearing this case in court and continue to focus on delivering a high quality search experience to our users. “
Similarly, Kent Walker, vice president of global affairs at Google, said that most people use Google because it is the best search engine out there.
“People use Google because they choose, not because they are forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives,” Walker said. “This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers.”
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