State AG Antitrust Suit Against Google Marks Next Step Towards CompetitionJuly 8, 2021
Yesterday, a bipartisan group of 36 state attorneys general, along with D.C., filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. The suit alleges that Google has monopolized the markets for mobile app stores through its Google Play store and mobile payment processing through Google Play billing. According to the suit, Google used a combination of agreements with would-be rivals and competitive restrictions to ensure that the Google Play store would be the only viable way to get apps on an Android phone. The suit claims Google then used this newfound gatekeeper role to force apps to give Google a significant cut of its in-app revenue, including apps that directly compete with Google offerings in areas like video streaming.
The suit follows three years of Public Knowledge advocacy on the competition challenges posed by dominant digital platforms. Public Knowledge Legal Director John Bergmayer’s recent paper, “Tending the Garden: How to Ensure App Stores Put Users First,” offers detailed proposals on how to fix the problems inherent in app stores. The suit marks the fourth major antitrust case filed by government enforcers against Google, including two on Google’s search dominance — one led by the Department of Justice and another by a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general — and a third on Google’s online advertising dominance.
The following can be attributed to Charlotte Slaiman, Competition Policy Director at Public Knowledge:
“This new antitrust lawsuit against Google for monopolizing key components of the mobile phone ecosystem is the latest confirmation of bipartisan concern about Google’s gatekeeper power online. This bipartisan group of state attorneys general agrees that as our online experience becomes more mobile, consumers are facing higher prices and fewer choices because of Google’s control.
“In addition to antitrust enforcement like this case, we need to continue to see bipartisan and coast-to-coast agreement like this in Congress. Congress cannot rely on antitrust lawsuits like this one to solve all the distinct competitive problems posed by today’s dominant digital platforms. We still need congressional action to give enforcers more and better tools for addressing the power of Big Tech.”