Michigan and Wisconsin Join Federal Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

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FILE – In this Nov. 18, 2019, file photo, the logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the entrance hall of Google France in Paris. Google users were briefly unable to access their Gmail accounts, watch YouTube videos or online documents when the internet giant’s services apparently suffered an outage on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

LANSING, Mich, (WLNS) —  Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced that their states are joining the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in a landmark lawsuit that alleges Google violated federal antitrust laws by entering into exclusionary business agreements that shut out competitors and suppressed innovation.

“Google’s anticompetitive behavior has unlawfully maintained the company’s monopoly on internet search and search-based advertising at the expense of consumers,” said the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

Nearly 90% of all internet searches are on Google.

“Google’s alleged aggressive and anticompetitive business practices have allowed it to solidify its grasp on the market and stifled competition to the detriment of consumers,” Nessel said.

“Google has amassed an enormous amount of data about consumers that it uses to block competition,” said Attorney General Kaul. “Replacing Google’s monopoly with fair competition in the market for search services will benefit consumers.” 

The lawsuit alleges that in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, Google pays billions of dollars each year to device makers like Apple and Samsung, and to carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, to make Google their default internet search engine.

Some of those contracts prohibit similar agreements with competing search engines.

Google is the preinstalled default search provider on all Apple devices and on virtually all devices running the Android operating system, among others.

On mobile devices, Google’s exclusionary agreements cover more than 80 percent of all U.S. search queries. Even for search queries not covered by Google’s exclusionary contracts, almost half occur on Google-owned search access points, such as Chrome, its browser, or Pixel, its smartphone. 

The Attorneys General believe that the presence of rival search engines would serve as a market check on Google, potentially benefiting consumers.

The motion from Michigan and Wisconsin was filed with Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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