States Attorneys General Close to Filing Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against Google

Another antitrust lawsuit is going to soon be filed by the states. It’d be the second antitrust lawsuit brought against the search giant.

It was supposed to be a blockbuster lawsuit. After years of being a dominant giant in the online world, the US government was filing an antitrust lawsuit against Google. For those who want to see web giants “reigned in”, it should have been a big day. Unfortunately, those hopes for online giant critics quickly unraveled. After pouring over the details of the lawsuit, it became clear that the case against Google is incredibly weak. This led many to speculate that the US Justice Department was rushed by outgoing president, Donald Trump, into filing the lawsuit before it could be fully developed.

Now, it seems that there will be another kick at the can in getting such a lawsuit right. Word is surfacing that various states will be filing their own antitrust lawsuit against Google. It appears to be a bipartisan affair. For those who are hoping to reign in web giants like Google, this development could breathe new life into the legal efforts being levied against Google. From Politico:

A coalition of states is finishing an antitrust lawsuit against Google focused on its power in the online search market that could be filed as soon as Thursday, two people close to the probe said.

The complaint — led by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, a Democrat, and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, a Republican — is expected to allege that Google has altered the designs of its search engine to the disadvantage of rivals that offer specialized search results, two other people close to the investigation said.

That differs from the antitrust suit that the Justice Department filed against Google in October, with support from 11 Republican state attorneys general. That complaint focused more narrowly on the exclusive contracts the company has signed with Apple, Mozilla and manufacturers of Android-powered smartphones to set Google as the default search engine on their browsers and mobile devices. (California has since asked to join that suit.)

The states pursuing the new Google suit expect to file it in the same federal court in Washington, D.C., as the Justice Department case, where the two can be consolidated. The judge in the DOJ suit, Amit Mehta, has scheduled a hearing for Friday to discuss the case schedule.

The people familiar with the new case could not say how many states will sign onto this complaint, but the original investigation unveiled in September 2019 featured Washington, D.C., plus Puerto Rico and 48 states — all but Alabama and California. Some of the states that signed onto the Justice Department’s case may also opt to join the multi-state suit because it includes the new allegations on specialized search.

As Politico notes, there has been a number of recent legal challenges against various web giants. In addition to the US Justice Departments suit against Google, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched its own antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. That suit targeted the various acquisitions the company made and argues that, by buying up potential competition, any competition in the social media realm has been prevented from ever really taking root.

It remains to be seen if there is even more legal action on the horizon by US authorities. Still, this latest development shows that the new legal action isn’t exactly stopping at this point in time. We’ll keep an eye out to see if any further developments occur on this front.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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