DENVER (CBS/AP) — Dozens of states filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google on Thursday, alleging that the search giant has an illegal monopoly over the online search market that hurts consumers and advertisers. The lawsuit, announced by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. by states represented by bipartisan attorneys general.
The lawsuit was joined by the attorneys general of 34 other states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.
“Consumers are denied the benefits of competition, including the possibility of higher quality services and better privacy protections. Advertisers are harmed through lower quality and higher prices that are, in turn, passed along to consumers,” Weiser said in press release.
The lawsuit was joined by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
“Big tech companies like Google have incredible power over our daily lives,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. “We look to them for so much of the information that we use to navigate the world, and they use our usage behavior to monetize their businesses. How they acquire and exert their power and influence over our behaviors must be scrutinized. The lawsuit we’re filing today is the result of a broad, bipartisan effort to examine Google’s market conduct and sends the message that no company is too powerful to avoid real accountability.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, “Google is using its market power to ensure consumers and businesses rely on it, and prevent competitors from coming to the fore. Their anticompetitive practices have built a monopoly over search—a backbone of the internet — that stifles innovation and economic growth, all while giving them unprecedented advertising profits and access to consumer information and the ability to obstruct the flow of data to their users. For too long, regulators have not taken needed steps to protect a free, open, competitive marketplace online. Big tech companies must meet the same standards of any other business in this country and play by the rules put in place to protect consumers.”
Google did not respond to a request for comment.
The case is the third antitrust salvo to slam Google during the past two months as the Department of Justice and attorneys general from across the U.S. weigh in with their different variations on how they believe the company is abusing its immense power to do bad things that harm other businesses, innovation and even consumers who find its services to be indispensable.
In many ways, the flurry of U.S. antitrust suits represent an attempt to catch up with European regulators who have spent the past several years trying to crack down on Google, mostly with huge fines, to little noticeable effect so far.
On Wednesday, 10 states led by Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Google accusing it of “anti-competitive conduct” in the online advertising industry, including a deal to manipulate sales with rival Facebook. It targeted the heart of Google’s business — the digital ads that generate nearly all of its revenue, as well as all the money that its corporate parent, Alphabet Inc., depends upon to help finance a range of far-flung technology projects.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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