Mississippi has joined the U.S. Department of Justice and 10 other states in suing tech giant Google for allegedly violating antitrust laws, Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced Tuesday.
The Department of Justice and 11 state attorneys general filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.
“When companies engage in fierce marketplace innovation, consumers benefit,” Fitch said in a statement. “But Google crossed the line and engaged in the kind of monopolistic behaviors that do harm not only to individual consumers, but also to the market itself. We bring this suit to promote competition by making room for others to grow.”
Google is the gatekeeper to the internet for billions of users and countless advertisers worldwide. For years, Google has accounted for almost 90 percent of all search queries in the United States and has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in search and search advertising, the suit claims.
As alleged in the complaint, Google has entered into a series of exclusionary agreements to lock up the primary avenues through which users access search engines, and thus the internet, by requiring that Google be set as the default or exclusive search engine on billions of mobile devices and computers worldwide. In particular, the complaint alleges that Google has unlawfully maintained monopolies in search and search advertising by:
- Entering into exclusivity agreements that forbid preinstallation of any competing search service.
- Entering into tying and other arrangements that force preinstallation of its search applications in prime locations on mobile devices and make them undeletable, regardless of consumer preference.
- Entering into long-term agreements with Apple that require Google to be the default – and de facto exclusive – general search engine on Apple’s popular Safari browser and other Apple search tools.
- Generally using monopoly profits to buy preferential treatment for its search engine on devices, web browsers, and other search access points, creating a continuous and self-reinforcing cycle of monopolization.
These and other anticompetitive practices harm competition and consumers, reducing the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete, and discipline Google’s behavior.
The antitrust laws protect our free market economy and forbid monopolists from engaging in anticompetitive practices. They also empower the Mississippi attorney general as parens patriae (the power of the state to act as guardian for those who are unable to care for themselves) on behalf of Mississippi citizens to bring cases like this one to remedy violations and restore competition.
Decades ago, cases brought against Microsoft by the DOJ and a coalition of state AGs recognized that the antitrust laws forbid anticompetitive agreements by high-technology monopolists to require preinstalled default status, to shut off distribution channels to rivals, and to make software undeletable. The complaint alleges that Google is using similar agreements itself to maintain and extend its own dominance.
In addition to Mississippi, the attorneys general of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas joined the U.S. Department of Justice in the lawsuit.