A third antitrust lawsuit has been filed against Google on Thursday, alleging the company of operating an illegal monopoly in online search and search advertising.
The antitrust lawsuit against Google was filed by at least 38 US state attorneys general and is being led by eight states, namely Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.
First and second cases
The latest case mirrors the landmark case filed in federal court by the US Department of Justice and 11 other states, which claimed that Google uses anticompetitive agreements to maintain its monopoly over internet searches and online advertising.
The first case was filed after over a year of investigation and amidst local and international scrutiny of the company’s practices.
However, Google referred to the lawsuit as “deeply flawed”, arguing that its sector remains intensely competitive and that places customers first in its business practices. The company said: “People use Google because they choose to – not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives.”
In the case filing, it was highlighted that Google spends billions of dollars annually to ensure that its search engine is installed as the default on browsers and devices such as mobile phones.
A second lawsuit was filed a couple of days ago by Texas and nine other states, which claims that Google abuses its ownership of digital ad marketplaces to unfairly enrich itself at the expense of fair competition.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a video accompanying a tweet announcing the case: “This goliath of a company is using its power to manipulate the market, destroy competition and harm you, the consumer.”
The nine other states involved in the filing were Kentucky, South Dakota, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah.
Third antitrust lawsuit
However, the latest lawsuit goes beyond the first one by adding that Google allegedly moved to block or downrank search results from specialized engines in the travel, home improvement and entertainment sectors.
A release from the office of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser stated: “The states also allege that Google’s acquisition and command of vast amounts of data obtained because of consumers’ lack of choice has fortified Google’s monopolies and created new barriers to competition and consumer value.”
Meanwhile, New York Attorney General Letitia James said: “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.”
David Dinielli, a former Justice Department antitrust official and a senior adviser at the Omidyar Network, described how Google’s alleged move to prioritize its own services at the expense of rival websites appears to harm consumers and small businesses.
Dinielli said: “If you are a hotel in Taos, you can’t rely on the fact that you have good ratings on Hotels.com or that there was an article that mentioned you in Travel & Leisure, because Google has decided to monetize the vast majority of the first screen of search results.”
“The only way you can reach the customers you want to reach are to pay Google to ensure you are on that first screen as an ad, rather than as an organic result,” he added.