Arkansas joins DOJ and ten other states in filing complaint against Google to restore competition in search and search advertising markets
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced filing a civil antitrust lawsuit jointly with the U.S. Department of Justice and ten state attorneys general in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.
“Most Americans think it is free to ‘Google’ something, but it comes at a cost and that cost is the freedom to choose the best products from the best companies,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As Attorney General, I am charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizens of our state and while I want businesses to thrive, I will do everything in my power to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices.”
As alleged in the complaint, Google, being one of the wealthiest and most powerful companies on the planet with a market value of $1 trillion, entered into a series of exclusionary agreements to lock up the primary avenues through which users access search engines, and thus the internet. By requiring that Google be set as the default or exclusive search engine on billions of mobile devices and computers worldwide, Google solidified its lead as the primary search engine in the United States, accounting for almost 90 percent of all search queries. In particular, the complaint alleges that Google has unlawfully maintained monopolies in search and search advertising by:
- 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.
These and other anticompetitive practices harm competition and consumers, reducing the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete and discipline Google’s behavior.
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, Arkansas seeks to stop Google’s anticompetitive conduct and restore competition for American consumers, advertisers and all companies now reliant on the internet economy.
In addition to Rutledge and the Department of Justice, the other participating state Attorneys General offices represent Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas.
About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on November 4, 2014, and sworn in on January 13, 2015, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected as Attorney General. She was resoundingly re-elected on November 6, 2018. Since taking office, she has significantly increased the number of arrests and convictions against online predators who exploit children and con artists who steal taxpayer money through Social Security Disability and Medicaid fraud. Further, she has held Rutledge Roundtable meetings and Mobile Office hours in every county of the State each year, and launched a Military and Veterans Initiative. She has led efforts to roll back government regulations that hurt job creators, fight the opioid epidemic, teach internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge serves as co-chairs of the National Association of Attorneys General Veterans Affairs Committee, re-established and co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture and was the former Chairwoman of the National Association of Attorneys General Southern Region. As the former Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, she remains active on the Executive Board.
A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for former Governor Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have one daughter. The family has a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.