States making daring new authorized claims in 2 Google lawsuits |
WASHINGTON – As a wave of antitrust litigation against Google and Facebook mounts, states go beyond where federal competition authorities make bold new claims in two lawsuits. States are pursuing new legal approaches as they join the growing siege of the two seemingly inviolable giants.
The most recent case came Thursday when dozens of states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google alleging the search giant had an illegal monopoly over the online search market, harming consumers and advertisers.
It was the third cartel volley that Google has beaten up in the past two months. The U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general from across the country have different ideas about how they believe the company is abusing its immense power in ways that harm other businesses, innovations, and even consumers who believe their services are essential.
And last week, the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states and counties sued Facebook. They accuse the social media giant of abusing its power on social networks to suppress smaller competitors – and looking for remedial measures that could include a forced spin-off of its esteemed Instagram and WhatsApp messaging services.
“There hasn’t been a cluster of cases of this importance since the 1970s,” said William Kovacic, law professor at George Washington University and former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, referring to the recent spate of antitrust actions by the State Department of Justice and the FTC. “This is a big deal.” The DOJ launched antitrust proceedings against AT&T in 1974 that led to its dissolution.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser’s new lawsuit echoes allegations the Justice Department previously made against Google’s behavior in the search market. But it goes beyond them and adds important new folds: It is also meant to prevent Google from dominating the latest generation of technologies like voice assistants and internet-connected cars.
The company discriminates against specialist search providers that provide travel, repair, and entertainment services and denies competitors like Bing access to its search advertising management tool.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington by attorneys general for 35 states plus 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 protection. Advertisers are harmed by lower quality and higher prices, which in turn are passed on to consumers, ”said Weiser when announcing the campaign.
Google’s economic policy director Adam Cohen said in a blog post that big companies should be scrutinized and that Google is ready to answer questions about how it works.
“But this lawsuit aims to re-engineer Search so that it will stop Americans from getting helpful information and affect companies’ ability to connect directly with customers,” he wrote. “We look forward to taking this case to court and continuing to focus on delivering a quality search experience to our users.”
Consumer advocates welcomed the lawsuit.
The attorneys general worked with the Department of Justice in developing their case and are demanding that their case be combined with the Department of Justice lawsuit so their more prescient claims can move forward, said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
On Wednesday, 10 states led by Republican attorneys general accused Google in a separate trial of abusing its online advertising power to stifle competition. They said the company’s anti-competitive behavior even included a deal with rival Facebook to manipulate ad sales – an entirely new allegation.
“That’s an explosive charge if you can prove it,” said George Washington’s Kovacic.
The lawsuit alleges that Google signed a pact with Facebook in 2015 that gave Google access to millions of encrypted messages, photos and videos from WhatsApp users.
The Texas-led suit targets the heart of Google’s business – the digital ads that make nearly all of its sales, as well as all of the money that the company’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., relies on to run a number of To finance financing. hurled technology projects.
In addition to Colorado, the states that filed the lawsuit Thursday were Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and 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.