California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Friday that the state of California has filed to join the US Department of Justice in an antitrust lawsuit against tech giant Google.
The lawsuit was filed in October by the federal government, and was joined by 11 states including Texas, Georgia and Florida. Becerra will be the first Democrat to openly support the Republican-led litigation.
Google has dominated the cell phone industry, and between 90 and 95 percent of all internet searches are conducted using Google’s search platform. The lawsuit alleges that Google has violated Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act due to its exclusionary agreements with device manufacturers like Apple, LG, Motorola, and Samsung, as well as with wireless carriers and browser developers. The complaint alleges that these exclusionary agreements have created an environment where, although consumers can choose to utilize other search engines, the search engine has de facto exclusivity in the market. The government argues that by creating this exclusivity, users are forced to use a product that has less strict privacy policies and data collection policies and that Google has taken advantage of advertisers who have few alternatives for online advertising.
In a statement to the press, Becerra emphasized the importance of creating a competitive marketplace in the technology sector, saying, “Google’s market dominance leaves consumers and small businesses with little choice when it comes to internet search engines. By using exclusionary agreements to dominate the market, Google has stifled competition and rigged the advertising market. We look forward to litigating this case to restore competition and innovation for California consumers.”
Google has maintained that users are able to choose between search engines and that their high rate of usage is a result of consumer preference, not a monopoly over the market.
This lawsuit is currently one of two major antitrust lawsuits against tech giants. Facebook is also facing lawsuits from the US Federal Trade Commission and 46 states for violations of the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act.
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