Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is joining the U.S. Department of Justice and 10 other state attorneys general in filing a civil antitrust lawsuit against Google. Hill and the other plaintiffs allege that Google’s anticompetitive practices have had harmful effects on competition and consumers.
The lawsuit aims “to prevent Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.”
Hill’s office says Google is the gatekeeper to the internet, accounting for nearly 90% of all search engine queries in the U.S. The lawsuit alleges Google has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in search and search advertising.
“Google’s stranglehold on America’s search market is not only contrary to our nation’s ideals of a free-market economy, but is also illegal,” said Hill. “Its anticompetitive behavior stifles competition, consumer choice and innovation, and we hope to see major change as a result of this historic action.”
The lawsuit claims Google has committed violations of Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The lawsuit claims Google has the power to charge advertisers more than it could in a competitive market and to reduce the quality of the services it provides them.
Google has foreclosed any meaningful search competitors from gaining vital distribution and scale, eliminating competition for a majority of search queries in the U.S. The lawsuit says by restricting competition in search, Google’s conduct has harmed consumers by reducing the quality of search, lessening the choice in search and impeding innovation.
According to Hill’s office, the complaint also alleges that Google has “unlawfully maintained monopolies in search and search advertising by entering into exclusivity agreements that forbid pre-installation of any competing search service, entering into arrangements that force the pre-installation of its search applications in prime locations on mobile devices and making them unable to be deleted, regardless of consumer preference, and entering into long-term agreements with Apple that require Google to be the default general search engine for Safari browser and other Apple search tools.”
The lawsuit also claims that Google used monopoly profits to buy preferential treatment for its search engine on devices, web browsers and other search access points, creating a continuous and self-reinforcing cycle of monopolization.