Utah, among dozens of states, to file another antitrust lawsuit against Google

DENVER (AP) – Dozens of several states are joining a growing effort to show that Google has methodically abused its power as the main gateway to the Internet, in a way that hurts consumers who regularly feed personal information its search engine and advertisers pouring billions of dollars into the vast network of marketing.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Washington by attorneys general from 35 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. It looks like it will be combined with a similar complaint from the US Department of Justice in late October, which is also trying to defuse Google’s dominance in online search and digital advertising.

“Consumers are denied the benefits of competition, including the ability to provide higher quality services and better protection of privacy. Advertisers are affected by lower quality and higher prices which are in turn passed on to consumers.” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in the lawsuit.

In a blog post, Google’s economic policy director Adam Cohen said that large companies should be examined and Google is ready to answer questions about how they work.

“But this process aims to redesign the search in ways that would deprive Americans of useful information and affect the ability of companies to connect directly with customers. We look forward to making this case in court, while remaining focused on providing a high-quality search experience for our users, “he said.

The case is the third antitrust bailout that has hit Google in the past two months, as the U.S. Department of Justice and Attorneys General across the U.S. look at different ways in which I think the company is abusing its immense power to do bad things to harm other businesses. , innovation and even consumers who consider its services indispensable.

“There has not been a group of cases of this significance since the 1970s,” said William Kovacic, a law professor at George Washington University and former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, pointing to the recent wave of antitrust actions by states. Justice and the FTC. “This is a big deal.”

In 1974, the DOJ filed an antitrust lawsuit against AT&T, which led to its dissolution.

In many ways, the wave of antitrust suits in the US is an attempt to catch up with European regulators who have spent the last few years trying to stop Google, especially with huge fines, with little noticeable effect until now.

The latest lawsuit echoes allegations made by the federal government. But it overcomes them by trying to stop Google from becoming dominant in the latest generation of technology, such as voice assistants and Internet-connected cars, as well as claiming that the company discriminates against specialized search providers that provide travel, home repairs. and entertainment services and denies access to its search advertising management tool, SA360, to competitors such as Bing.

To the detriment of competitors and consumers, Google has deviated from its founding motto, “Don’t be bad”, displaying empty greed and contempt for the law in search of absolute market dominance.

– Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes

The trial was joined by attorneys general from Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York. , North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

“To the detriment of competitors and consumers, Google has deviated from its founding motto: ‘Don’t be bad,’ displaying empty greed and contempt for the law in pursuit of absolute market dominance,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes , in a statement Thursday. “Instead of relying on innovation and merit in an open market, Google has chosen to try to crush all competition with a concerted system that few in the public understand.”

Attorneys general worked with the Justice Department as they developed their case and called for their case to be combined with the department’s process, allowing those more forward-looking claims to move forward, said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

“It will be a unified effort,” he said.

Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer promotion organization, welcomed the latter process.

“Google has built a monopoly on online advertising that is unfair, excludes competitors and raises prices. And by controlling its search engine, Google has been able to unfairly filter listings for competitors, while promoting its own business,” said Alex. Harman, a competition policy advocate for the group.

On Wednesday, 10 states led by Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing it of “anti-competitive conduct” in the online advertising industry, including a sales manipulation agreement with rival Facebook. It targeted the heart of Google’s business – digital ads that generate almost all of its revenue, as well as all the money that the parent company, Alphabet Inc., depends on to help fund a range of remote technology projects.

Liedtke reported from San Ramon, California. Associated Press writer Marcy Gordon contributed to the Washington report.

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