2 min read.Updated: 18 Dec 2020, 09:35 AM IST Edited By Sanchari Ghosh
The latest suit has justifiable arguments, and it could mark a critical turning point in forcing Google to change its practices when it comes to its search business.
A bipartisan group of 38 state attorneys general on Thursday sued Google parent Alphabet Inc., accusing it of antitrust violations. The regulators contend the internet giant leveraged its market dominance in the search-engine market to favor its own offerings over smaller competitors and maintain its monopoly.
The complaint goes much further than the suit the Department of Justice brought against company in October and the separate action filed Wednesday by 10 Republican states. The latest suit has a justifiable argument, and it could mark a critical turning point in forcing Google to change its practices when it comes to its crown jewel search business.
The lawsuit, led by eight states including Colorado, Iowa and New York, marks the latest escalation of the antitrust battle against Google.
The lawsuit, filed by 38 attorneys general, accuses Google of illegally monopolizing internet search and search advertising through a series of anticompetitive contracts and conduct, hurting consumers and advertisers in the process. “Never before have so many states and the federal government come together to challenge a company with such power," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement Thursday. “Google has more data on consumers, and more variety of information, than perhaps any entity in history."
This comes a day after 10 Republican state attorneys general led by Texas sued the company for anticompetitive practices, and follows an October complaint by the Justice Department.
Google countered in a blog post that it has improved search results in ways that many world regulators had previously deemed pro-competitive. Google’s director of economic policy Adam Cohen said, “This lawsuit seeks to redesign search in ways that would deprive Americans of helpful information and hurt businesses’ ability to connect directly with customers." “We look forward to making that case in court," he added.
On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google. At its center is a bold claim: Google colluded with archrival Facebook Inc. in an illegal deal to manipulate auctions for online advertising, an industry the two companies dominate. Google named the secret pact after a Star Wars character. “Any collaboration between two competitors of such magnitude should have set off the loudest alarm bells in terms of antitrust compliance," the Texas lawsuit read. “Apparently, it did not."
In November, India’s antitrust regulator has initiated a probe against Google for allegedly abusing its dominant position to force app makers to exclusively use its billing system for in-app purchases and for bundling the search giant’s payments app with Android smartphones sold in the country.
Earlier this year, Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, has said she regrets not being even bolder because tech firms like Google are increasingly able to squeeze into new markets and expand rapidly. Three years ago, the EU blasted out a then-record-breaking fine together with an order for Google to stop favoring its own shopping ads. A year later Google got an even bigger penalty and a demand to stop pushing its search and web-browser apps onto Android mobile phones. The company was fined a third time last year and continues to face EU scrutiny. Her newest plan is to draft rules to curb a big company’s ability to favor its own products and to arm regulators with new powers to move more swiftly to try to safeguard competition before it’s overwhelmed.