Louisiana AG joins lawsuit against Google
Published 3:07 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2020
On Tuesday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry — along with the U.S. Dept. of Justice (USDOJ) and ten other state attorneys general — filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.
“Google has grown into a big tech monopoly that has stifled competition,” Landry said. “Without competition, we do not have capitalism; and without capitalism, we do not have America. So I am proud to join Attorney General Bill Barr in this fight for America.”
As one of the wealthiest companies on the planet, with a market value of $1 trillion, Google is the monopoly gatekeeper to the internet for billions of users and countless advertisers worldwide. For years, Google has accounted for almost 90 percent of all search queries in the United States and has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in search and search advertising, Landry said.
As alleged in the complaint, Google has entered into a series of exclusionary agreements to lock up the primary avenues through which users access search engines, and thus the internet, by requiring that Google be set as the default or exclusive search engine on billions of mobile devices and computers worldwide. In particular, the complaint 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 tying and other arrangements that force pre-installation of its search applications in prime locations on mobile devices and make them undeletable, regardless of consumer preference.
- Entering into long-term agreements with Apple that require Google to be the default — and de facto exclusive — general search engine on Apple’s popular Safari browser and other Apple search tools.
- Generally using 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.
These and other anticompetitive practices harm competition and consumers, reducing the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete, and discipline Google’s behavior, Landry said.
The antitrust laws protect our free market economy and forbid monopolists from engaging in anticompetitive practices. They also empower Landry as parens patriae on behalf of Louisiana citizens to bring cases like this one to remedy violations and restore competition. Decades ago, USDOJ’s and a state AG coalition’s case against Microsoft recognized that the antitrust laws forbid anticompetitive agreements by high-technology monopolists to require preinstalled default status, to shut off distribution channels to rivals, and to make software undeletable. The complaint alleges that Google is using similar agreements itself to maintain and extend its own dominance.
The complaint alleges that Google’s anticompetitive practices have had harmful effects on competition and consumers. Google has foreclosed any meaningful search competitor from gaining vital distribution and scale, eliminating competition for a majority of search queries in the United States. By restricting competition in search, Google’s conduct has harmed consumers by reducing the quality of search (including on dimensions such as privacy, data protection, and use of consumer data), lessening choice in search, and impeding innovation. By suppressing competition in advertising, 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. Through filing the lawsuit, Louisiana seeks to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition for American consumers, advertisers, and all companies now reliant on the internet economy.
Google is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the state of Delaware, and is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. Google is owned by Alphabet, Inc., a publicly traded company incorporated and existing under the laws of the state of Delaware and headquartered in Mountain View.
The participating state attorneys general represent Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas.