Google just got sued—again.
By Scott Nover
1 hour ago
Thirty-eight states and territories sued Google today for alleged antitrust violations stemming from the company’s dominance in the online search market, echoing a similar lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in October.
“Google, one of the largest companies in the world, has methodically undertaken actions to entrench and reinforce its general search services and search-related advertising monopolies by stifling competition,” the complaint said. “As the gateway to the internet, Google has systematically degraded the ability of other companies to access consumers.”
While the original Justice Department lawsuit was joined by 11 states led by Republican attorneys general, the new suit is from a bipartisan coalition of states. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., could choose to combine the new suit with the Justice Department suit.
But, that’s not all. Google was also sued Wednesday by a coalition of 10 Republican-led states for its dominance in the digital advertising market. Fellow internet and advertising giant Facebook was also sued by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states recently for abusing its market power to acquire competitors including Instagram and WhatsApp.
The new complaint against Google alleges it uses its market power to stifle competition among other search engines, disadvantages competitors using its Search Ads 360 platform, and throttles traffic to vertical search engines for airfare, restaurants and more. The new suit also says that Google’s advent in voice-based search through smart speakers and internet-connected cars could provide new ways that Google excludes competition.
“We know that scrutiny of big companies is important and we’re prepared to answer questions and work through the issues,” Google director of economic policy Adam Cohen wrote in a statement. “But this lawsuit seeks to redesign Search in ways that would deprive Americans of helpful information and hurt businesses’ ability to connect directly with customers.”
Yelp, a company long critical of Google’s search practices, praised the new suit.
“The bipartisan enforcement action of the state attorneys general today is arguably more significant than previous lawsuits in that it strikes at the foundation of Google’s dominance: its search results,” Luther Lowe, Yelp’s svp of public policy, said in a statement. “For nearly a decade, Yelp’s small public policy team has openly advocated for heightened antitrust scrutiny of Google’s behavior, so it is gratifying to see Google finally brought to justice for this specific conduct.”
Sources recently told Adweek that they expect the federal suit to go uninterrupted by the change in administration, though it’s still unclear who President-elect Joe Biden will choose as his attorney general. While the Obama administration was notably cozy with Silicon Valley and, in particular, Google, the resultant years have brought a severe techlash to Washington on both sides of the aisle.