Attorneys general for 36 states and one district are suing Google for alleged anti-competitive practices – this time on its Google Play app store.
The lawsuit puts pressure on big tech companies, which are also focused towards a growth battery of antitrust suit, repel bipartite antitrust legislation of the House of Representatives and prepares for further scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission now that he’s heading by antitrust expert and Big Tech critic Lina Khan.
The new costume Filed Wednesday accuses Google of making it difficult for app developers to distribute Android apps anywhere other than its Google Play Store, where they are subject to rules and fees that benefit Google. It also says Google has or tried to make deals with manufacturers of Android devices like Samsung and mobile network operators like Verizon to preload Google apps on their devices and not open their own competing app stores. The lawsuit alleges that Google is also discouraging Android device owners from using other app stores by showing them warning messages that apps in those stores may contain malware, and by forcing users to bypass confusing security messages when trying to download apps not from the play store. .
These practices, according to the lawsuit, make it extremely difficult for businesses to compete with the Play Store and hurt both consumers and businesses – with the exception, of course, of Google.
“Once again we see Google using its dominance to illegally crush competition and make billions in profits,” 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 only Google, for the millions of apps they can choose to download on their phones and tablets. Worse yet, Google is wringing the lifeblood from millions of small businesses that are only looking to compete. We are filing this lawsuit to end Google’s illegal monopoly power and finally give voice to millions of consumers and business owners.
James and the attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah are co-responsible for the case, joined by 32 other states and Washington, DC. Google did not immediately respond to the request for comment.
The lawsuit expresses complaints similar to those filed against the Apple App Store, which is being investigated by European regulators and was the the subject of a still undecided trial by Epic Games. Developers must go through the App Store and agree to its terms of service to put their apps on Apple’s mobile devices, and they must also give Apple a massive reduction in subscription fees and in-app purchases. Google has avoided part of this review because it is possible to download some apps on Android devices without going through Google Play. Now, it seems most attorneys general in the United States are trying to argue that this is not enough.
Google lawyers will be very busy for the foreseeable future. The company was for follow-up in 2020 by 38 state attorneys general (co-led by James) for anti-competitive practices in its research results and research announcements; the Justice Department also filed a similar complaint that year. Ten state attorneys general also filed an anti-competitive complaint last year regarding Google’s advertising technology practices.
Those lawsuits are making their way through the courts, but there is a silver lining for Google: the antitrust complaints against tech giant Facebook filed by 48 state attorneys general (co-led by – you guessed it – James) and the FTC were made redundant in late June, a judge said the attorneys general’s complaint came too late and the FTC had failed to establish that Facebook was a monopoly. The FTC can resubmit an amended complaint within 30 days.
But even if this complaint ends in the same way as the attorneys general’s complaint against Facebook, Google will not be out of the woods. Many lawmakers and regulators are eager to take on Big Tech over antitrust issues. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has focused on antitrust law enforcement and the dismantling of Big Tech, released a statement Wednesday evening applauding the latest trial and warning that antitrust actions will not stop not here.
“I commend these attorneys general for taking action,” she said. “The case for broad antitrust reform is clear, and I will continue to fight in Washington to reinvigorate competition policy so that our economy can thrive and consumers can get the fair treatment they deserve.”