Arkansas Attorney General’s Office has joined a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against Google for alleged monopolistic practices.
On Oct. 20, the Justice Department announced that it was filing suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. is a “monopoly gatekeeper” that had entered into “exclusionary agreements that collectively lock up the primary avenues through which users access search engines, and thus the internet, by requiring that Google be set as the preset default general search engine on billions of mobile devices and computers worldwide” and that it has maintained monopolies on search and search advertising.
In the complaint, the DOJ claims that Google, which is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., is harming competition and consumers through anticompetitive practices, in violation of antitrust law.
According to the DOJ complaint, Google has entered into exclusivity agreements that prohibit the pre-installation of competing search services, entered into arrangement that force pre-installation of Google search applications in “prime locations” on devices and make them undeletable, entered into long-term agreements with Apple that makes Google the default general search engine on the Safari browser, and uses profits to purchase “preferential treatment for its search engine on devices, web browsers and other search access point.”
“The complaint filed today against Google is based on violations of the U.S. antitrust laws and is separate and distinct from concerns raised about content moderation and political censorship by online platforms. As part of the Department’s broader review of market-leading online platforms, we listened to myriad public concerns about how online platforms fail their users. While many of the concerns we heard were competition-related, others were not – like online child exploitation, public safety, and censorship. Outside the Antitrust Division, the Department has considered these issues separately, including by advocating for Section 230 legislative reforms. Our antitrust investigation of Google, by contrast, is based solely on traditional antitrust principles and is aimed at promoting consumer welfare through robust competition,” U.S. Attorney William P. Barr said in a statement.
Eleven states joined the DOJ in filing the civil law suit. In addition to Arkansas, the state attorneys general offices in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas are participating in the lawsuit.
“Most Americans think it is free to ‘Google’ something, but it comes at a cost and that cost is the freedom to choose the best products from the best companies,” Rutledge said. “As Attorney General, I am charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizens of our state and while I want businesses to thrive, I will do everything in my power to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices.”