(INDIANAPOLIS) – Attorney General Curtis Hill announced today that he has joined the United States Department of Justice and 10 other state attorneys general in filing a civil antitrust lawsuit against Google.
The federal lawsuit aims to prevent Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets. 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% of all search queries in the U.S. and has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in search and search advertising. The lawsuit alleges Google has committed multiple violations of Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
“Google’s stranglehold on America’s search market is not only contrary to our nation’s ideals of a free-market economy, but is also illegal,” Attorney General Hill said. “Its anticompetitive behavior stifles competition, consumer choice and innovation, and we hope to see major change as a result of this historic action.”
Attorney General Hill and the other plaintiffs allege in a complaint that Google’s anticompetitive practices have had harmful effects on competition and consumers. Google has foreclosed any meaningful search competitors from gaining vital distribution and scale, eliminating competition for a majority of search queries in the U.S. By restricting competition in search, Google’s conduct has harmed consumers by reducing the quality of search, lessening the 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. Advertisers pay almost $40 billion annually to place ads on Google’s search engine pages.
Google, the complaint says, has entered into a series of exclusionary agreements that require Google to be set as the default or exclusive search engine on billions of mobile devices and computers worldwide. Through these agreements, Google locked up the primary avenues through which users access other search engines.
Additionally, 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 arrangements that force the pre-installation of its search applications in prime locations on mobile devices and making them unable to be deleted, 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; and
- 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, and they reduce the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete and discipline Google’s behavior.
The civil complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is attached.