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Google to face massive antitrust lawsuit

Has Google been methodically abusing its power as the internet’s main gateway? Dozens of states are joining an escalating effort to prove that Google has been hurting consumers habitually feeding personal information into its search engine and advertisers pouring billions of dollars into its vast marketing network. The lawsuit also alleges that the tech giant harmed competitors with its presentation of search results, favoring its own services over those of rivals. The complaint also claims Google asserted its dominance to become the default search engine in not only web browsers and smartphones, but also newer technologies like smart speakers and connected cars,

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Washington by attorneys general of 35 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico. It seems likely to be combined with a similar complaint by the the U.S. Department of Justice in late October that is also trying to defuse Google’s dominance of online search and digital advertising.

“Consumers are denied the benefits of competition, including the possibility of higher quality services and better privacy protections. Advertisers are harmed through lower quality and higher prices that are, in turn, passed along to consumers,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in announcing the action.

In a blog post, Google’s director of economic policy, Adam Cohen, said big companies should be scrutinized, and Google is prepared to answer questions about how it works: “We know that scrutiny of big companies is important and we’re prepared to answer questions and work through the issues,” the company said. “But this lawsuit seeks to redesign Search in ways that would deprive Americans of helpful information and hurt businesses‘ ability to connect directly with customers.”

Google’s search engine is the most-visited website on the internet. The company processes around 90% of all online searches in the US. That stranglehold is the foundation of Google’s massive advertising business, which generates almost all of the company’s $160 billion in annual sales.