Google on Thursday was hit with a third regulatory lawsuit over its market dominance, this time from 38 states and territories led by New York, Colorado and Nebraska.
The suit accuses Google of maintaining monopolies through “multiple forms of anticompetitive conduct in the general search and search advertising-related markets.”
The three main tactics Google has employed, the lawsuit says, are exclusionary agreements — such as its partnership with Apple to make Google the default search engine on the iPhone — discrimination against specialized search sites, and disadvantaging competitors who use its search-engine marketing tool.
The complaint is not just focused on Google’s dominance in search and advertising. It also singles out Google’s efforts to compete with Amazon in the smart speaker space by pitting its Google Assistant against Alexa.
The company has allegedly blocked competing smart assistants from accessing its car software, which the suit says stands “to be a significant way the internet is accessed in the near future.”
“Google sits at the crossroads of so many areas of our digital economy and has used its dominance to illegally squash competitors, monitor nearly every aspect of our digital lives, and profit to the tune of billions,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
“Through its illegal conduct, the company has ensured that hundreds of millions of people turn to Google first when looking for an answer, but it doesn’t take a web search to understand that unchecked corporate power shouldn’t have disproportionate control over our data and information,” she added.
In a lengthy blog post responding to the lawsuit, Google’s director of economic policy Adam Cohen said that the changes sought by the complaints would make Google worse for consumers.
“The claims being made have been closely examined and rejected by regulators and courts around the world, including the US Federal Trade Commission, competition authorities in Brazil, Canada and Taiwan, and courts in the United Kingdom and Germany, who all agreed that our changes are designed to improve your search results,” he added.
The complaint arrives two months after the US Department of Justice filed its own antitrust case accusing Google of maintaining “unlawful monopolies” in its search and advertising businesses, and just a day after a group of states led by Texas accused it of teaming up with Facebook to rig the lucrative online advertising market.
News Corp, which owns the New York Post, issued a statement Thursday regarding the Texas suit, saying the company was “stunned by the detailed evidence of anti-competitive behavior and the damning allegations of serious collusion.”
“The core charge is that publishers all over the country have been routinely ripped off, which is bad news for freedom of the press, journalism and an informed society,” the statement reads.
Google shares were down 1.1 percent on the news, trading at $1,738.35 Thursday afternoon.