- A bipartisan group of state attorneys general is planning to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google this week, Politico reported on Tuesday evening.
- The suit is expected to accuse Google of designing its search engine to favor its own specialized search products over the specialized search tools of competitors, according to Politico.
- This latest legal challenge follows a recent spree of antitrust cases brought against tech giants, including a lawsuit brought against Google by the DOJ in October.
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Google will soon be facing another federal antitrust lawsuit, this time over the design of its search engine, Politico reported Tuesday.
A bipartisan group of state attorneys general – led by Colorado’s Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser, and Nebraska’s Republican Attorney General Doug Peterson – plan to file a complaint against Google as early as Thursday, according to Politico.
The states’ complaint is expected to accuse Google of anti-competitive behavior by modifying its search engine to boost results for its own products while disadvantaging results for competitors that provide specialized search results, Politico reported.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the planned lawsuit.
Consumers often begin their decisions about where to shop online, look for jobs, book travel accommodations, and make dining plans with a Google search. From there, they could end up visiting sites like Amazon and Etsy, LinkedIn and Monster.com, TripAdvisor and Airbnb, or Yelp and OpenTable – or Google’s own products, such as: Google Shopping, Google Careers, Google Flights, and Google Maps.
Many competing search result providers have argued that Google unfairly leverages control over its search engine to give its own specialized search products premium placement, steering users away from its competitors or forcing them to pay Google for ads in order to secure prime real estate.
The planned lawsuit stems from an investigation launched in September 2019 by attorneys general from 48 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
It also comes on the heels of another major antitrust case filed against Google by the Department of Justice in October and joined by 12 states (California joined earlier this month).
That lawsuit argued that Google uses a network of illegal, exclusionary business deals that disadvantage smaller competitors, building an unfair advantage in search and online advertising, marking the largest legal challenge Google has faced and is likely to result in a court fight that could last years.
In a blog post, Google’s Senior Vice President of Global Affairs, Kent Walker, called the lawsuit “deeply flawed.”
Politico reported that some states from the DOJ’s case may also sign onto the forthcoming lawsuit because it focuses on a different aspect of Google’s search dominance.
Federal and state regulators have grown increasingly aggressive in probing major tech companies over potential monopolistic behavior, and in recent months have filed major lawsuits that could have huge impacts on those businesses as well as their users, customers, and competitors.
Last week, Facebook was hit with two massive antitrust lawsuits – one from the Federal Trade Commission and one from a group of 46 states – both seeking to spin off Instagram and WhatsApp from the social media company.
European regulators, which have long been ahead of their US counterparts in taking on tech companies over antitrust concerns, have also filed lawsuits, opened investigations, and issued fines this year against tech giants including Amazon, Apple, and Facebook.