Attorneys general for 36 states and one district are suing Google for alleged anti-competitive practices – this time, over its Google Play app store.
The dress turns on the heat on Big Tech companies, which are too face a growing pile of antitrust it suits, fending off bipartite antitrust legislation from the House of Representatives, and preparing for more intense scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission now that is direct by antitrust expert and Big Tech critic Lina Khan.
The new dress filed Wednesday accuses Google of making it difficult for app developers to distribute Android apps elsewhere in their Google Play store, where they are subject to rules and fees that benefit Google. It also says that Google has or has tried to make agreements with Android device manufacturers like Samsung and mobile network operators like Verizon to preload Google apps on their devices and not to open their own. own app store in competition. The lawsuit alleges that Google also discourages Android device owners from using other app stores, displaying warning messages saying that apps from these stores may contain malware, and forcing users to bypass confusing security messages. when trying to download apps not from the Play Store.
These practices, the cause says, make it very difficult for companies to compete with the Play Store and hurt consumers and companies – except, of course, for Google.
“Once again, we see that Google is using its dominance to illegally cancel the competition and profit to the tune of billions,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “Through its illegal behavior, the company has ensured that hundreds of millions of Android users turn to Google, and Google alone, for the millions of apps they can choose to download on their phones and tablets. Worse yet, Google is squeezing the blood out of millions of small businesses looking to compete alone. We are taking this demand to end Google’s illegal monopoly power and ultimately giving voice to millions of consumers and entrepreneurs.
James and the attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah are the co-leaders of the case, which is joined by 32 other states and Washington DC. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit expresses similar complaints to those that have been fought against Apple’s App Store, which is being investigated by European regulators and it was the subject of an always undecided cause by Epic Games. Developers must go through the App Store and accept its terms of service to put their apps on Apple’s mobile devices, and they must also give Apple a considerable reduction in subscription rights and in-app purchases. app. Google has skipped a part of this scrutiny because it is possible to download certain apps on Android devices without going through Google Play. Now it seems that most attorneys general in the United States are trying to make it clear that it’s not good enough.
Google’s lawyers will be very committed to the foreseeable future. The company was cited in question in 2020 by 38 state attorneys general (co-led by James) on anticompetitive practices in their research findings and research announcements; the Department of Justice had filed a similar lawsuit that year as well. Two state attorneys general also filed an anti-competition lawsuit last year over Google’s advertising practices.
Those lawsuits have gone to court, but there’s one possible bright spot for Google: antitrust lawsuits against tech giant Facebook filed by 48 state attorneys general (co-led by – you guessed it – James) and the FTC have been dismissed at the end of June, with a judge saying the attorney general’s complaint came too late and that the FTC had not established that Facebook was a monopoly. The FTC may re-file a modified complaint within 30 days.
But even if this complaint ends the same way that the attorney general’s complaint against Facebook did, Google won’t be out of the woods. Many lawmakers and regulators have struggled to take Big Tech to antitrust lawsuits. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has made antitrust enforcement and breaking Big Tech one of her main problems, released a statement Wednesday evening applauding the latest cause and warning that actions antitrust will not stop there.
“I congratulate these Attorneys General for taking action,” he said. “The case for a major antitrust reform is clear, and I will continue to fight in Washington to reinvigorate competition policy so that our economy can thrive and consumers get the fair treatment they deserve.”