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Schmitt joins federal antitrust suit against Google

Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined the Department of Justice (DOJ) and ten other state attorneys general on a federal antitrust lawsuit against Google Tuesday.

“Google, through its monopoly on search functions, controls a huge amount of the information that Americans access every single day,” Schmitt said in a statement. “This kind of concentration of power is alarming, and it’s critical that we ensure that even the biggest of big tech companies, including Google, are acting responsibly, and are held accountable when they aren’t. I’m pleased to join the Department of Justice and ten other state attorneys general in filing this lawsuit against Google.”

The complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, accused Google of violating federal antitrust regulations. The plaintiffs said the company maintained a monopoly through agreements with other major tech companies to make their service the default browser, forbidding the download of competitive services on certain devices, and purchasing preferential treatment with other prominent companies. 

The suit claimed Google’s practices harmed competitors and the public by reducing options for consumers and “impeding innovation.” The complaint also accused the company of using its power to price-gouge advertisers and reduce the quality of the service provided to them. 

“The Google of today is a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet, and one of the wealthiest companies on the planet, with a market value of $1 trillion and annual revenue exceeding $160 billion,” the complaint reads. “For many years, Google has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising — the cornerstones of its empire.”

The suit pointed to a similar case leveled against Microsoft in 2001 as a precedent. In United States of America v. Microsoft Corporation, the federal government sued the company, arguing that its use of similar tactics to ensure market dominance violated antitrust laws, an accusation confirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit

Google addressed the new suit in a statement Tuesday morning, calling it “deeply flawed.”

“This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers,” said Kent Walker, the company’s chief legal advisor. “To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.”

Schmitt joined attorneys general from Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas on the complaint. 

Schmitt declined a request to be interviewed for further comment.