The attorneys-general of 38 US states have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google over the alleged monopoly of search results across the internet. The states accuse the internet giant of stifling competition, manipulating search results, killing innovations, and leaving web users with fewer online options – while upgrading rankings for its own products and services to the detriment of business rivals.
Led by Colorado and Nebraska, the other US states suing Google claim that the search giant captures almost 90% of all internet queries and that this limits the most profitable search options available to internet users. It must however be noted that this is the third antitrust lawsuit filed against Google by US regulators since October this year.
As part of the complaints against the internet search behemoth, the litigants charge Google for positioning itself as the default internet browser on smartphones, and internet-connected gadgets such as smart TVs and home speakers among others. The complainants said Google even pays some companies such as Apple or Huawei and others to remain their default search engine while charging other companies to buy ads to attain the top users’ search results.
Google pays Apple between $8 to $12 billion every year to remain the default search engine on iPhones.
“Google’s anticompetitive 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,” said Phil Weiser, the attorney general of Colorado. “This lawsuit seeks to restore competition.”
Google disagreed that it is stifling healthy rivalry and hopes to meet the complainants in court. The tech giant said all it does is to make search results more relevant to users’ queries while also striving to make more businesses access to potential customers. “We look forward to making that case in court while remaining focused on delivering a high-quality search experience for our users,” said Adam Cohen, Google’s director of economic policy.
Federal US regulators had often probed Google in the past but often settled for levying fines against the tech company. In October, the US Department of Justice also filed another lawsuit against Google for antitrust issues. European regulators on the other hand had levied about $9 billion against the company for various business breaches.
Internet searches and advertising are central to Google’s business and profitability across all devices. In 2019, the company disclosed that it made $98 billion in revenue – an income that surpasses the GDP of 129 countries and 46 US states.
“Bringing an antitrust case against the most powerful company in the world requires determination and courage, so we applaud the cooperative, bipartisan work of the state attorneys general and all the staff involved in this lawsuit,” said Luther Lowe, the senior vice president for public policy at Yelp. “We hope today’s action is the beginning of a return to a more vibrant and open Internet.”