Google’s legal team just got even busier.
On Thursday, less than 24 hours after Google was hit with an antitrust lawsuit digging into its ad tech business, a bipartisan coalition of 38 states and territories served up yet another suit, this one focused on alleged antitrust violations related to Google’s alleged monopoly over the search market.
If that sounds familiar, that’s because anticompetitive search abuse is also the main theme of the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google, which dropped in October.
This more recent search-centric complaint, which was led by attorneys general from Colorado, Arizona, New York, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, covers much the same territory as the DOJ’s case.
The plan, according to Colorado AG Phil Weiser, is to file a motion combining the states’ suit with the one filed by the DOJ to make one big, consolidated case.
Specifically, the state-led case accuses Google of exploiting its market position to gather and use data to the detriment of consumers in the name of profit.
Google’s alleged monopoly power comes from two main areas, according to the suit.
One is dominance over general search services, which are so scaled by this point – nearly 90% of all internet searches in the United States are done through Google – that new entrants to the space don’t have a chance. And the second is dominance over the general search advertising market.
The states argue that Google has maintained its monopoly over search through exclusionary agreements (see the millions that Google pays to be the default search engine on Apple devices); by discriminating against specialized search sites (see Yelp, Expedia and Angie’s List) in favor of its own products; and by disadvantaging competitors that use its search engine marketing tools by artificially driving ad spend to itself and limiting the ability of rival search engines to compete for ad dollars.
The result of this conduct is less choice for consumers.
The states also point to how Google’s ability to gather vast amounts of user data has helped solidify its monopoly while creating significant barriers for potential competitors, thereby snuffing out innovation before it’s even born.
In other big tech antitrust news, Facebook was hit with two separate antitrust lawsuits of its own last week: one from the Federal Trade Commission and a second led by New York AG Letitia James with support from 47 other attorneys general. Both allege that Google is engaging in illegal monopolization of the social networking market.
For those who are keeping count, that’s four antitrust lawsuits against big tech platforms in less than two months: two for Google and two for Facebook.