Mississippi joins DOJ antitrust lawsuit against Google

Mississippi is one of 11 states to join an antitrust lawsuit against Google, filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), alleging that the search engine “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.”

“When companies engage in fierce marketplace innovation, consumers benefit,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said. “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.”

In a news release, Fitch further explained the tactics allegedly used by Google to maintain its monopolies accounting for 90 percent of all search queries in the United States: 

  • 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.

According to Mississippi’s first-term attorney general, these practices violate the state’s antitrust laws and “harm competition and consumers, reducing the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete, and discipline Google’s behavior.” Fitch likened the suit to the landmark Microsoft case from nearly two decades ago. 

As for the stated goal of the lawsuit, the release from Fitch’s office notes that it is intended to restore competition. 

“The complaint alleges that Google’s anticompetitive practices have had harmful effects on competition and consumers. Google has foreclosed any meaningful search competitor from gaining vital distribution and scale, eliminating competition for a majority of search queries in the United States. By restricting competition in search, Google’s conduct has harmed consumers by reducing the quality of search (including on dimensions such as privacy, data protection, and use of consumer data), lessening choice in search, and impeding innovation. By suppressing competition in advertising, Google has the power to charge advertisers more than it could in a competitive market and to reduce the quality of the services it provides them. Through filing the lawsuit, Mississippi seeks to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition for American consumers, advertisers, and all companies now reliant on the internet economy.”

Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas have also joined the Department of Justice in the lawsuit.

The full complaint can be viewed, here.