Attorney General Todd Rokita has filed a multistate lawsuit against Google over monopolistic practices used by the digital giant to thwart competition and maintain unfair control over markets for Android app distribution and Android in-app payment processing.
An investigation joined by 37 state attorneys general revealed that Google is abusing its market control in the digital economy through Google Play, an app store that comes pre-installed on nearly every Android device. Through contractual restraints, technical barriers and deception, Google inhibits competition by obstructing reasonable alternative means of downloading apps.
Google then requires in-app purchases to be made using its own payment processing services, for which it charges inflated fees — to the tune of 30% — that it could not sustain but for the fact that it has foreclosed competition from alternative app distribution and payment methods.
“This is yet another example of a Big Tech company harming Hoosiers through unfair practices,” Attorney General Rokita said. “All businesses certainly have the right to seek strategic advantages and maximize their own profits, but in pursuing these goals they must also comply with antitrust laws and consumer protection statutes. Competition is an important part of our economy that protects consumers.”
The complaint alleges that Google has unlawfully restrained trade and maintained monopolies in the markets for Android app distribution and payment processing services for Android in-app digital purchases.
Google’s alleged unlawful conduct artificially limited the availability of feasible alternatives that might otherwise place competitive pressure on Google to offer lower fees, enhance quality or innovate new features — and consumers are ultimately harmed by these tactics.
Indiana is joined in this lawsuit by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
Citing federal and state antitrust and consumer protection statutes, the lawsuit seeks broad injunctive relief sufficient to forbid the repetition of Google’s unlawful practices and to restore competition. The lawsuit also aims to obtain redress for consumers.
This lawsuit is just the latest action that Attorney General Rokita has taken to stop Big Tech companies’ heavy-handed and abusive conduct against Hoosiers.
In April, Attorney General Rokita launched an investigation into the censorship practices of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter. That investigation is still ongoing.
Attorney General Rokita also represents Indiana in two other multistate antitrust lawsuits against Google and another multistate antitrust lawsuit against Facebook.
In October, Indiana joined the U.S. Department of Justice and 10 other state attorneys general in a lawsuit against Google claiming that the company unlawfully maintains monopolies in markets for general search services and search advertising.
In December, Indiana joined the Texas Attorney General’s Office and eight other state attorneys general asserting that Google has committed antitrust violations through its display advertising practices.
Also in December, Indiana joined 47 state and territorial attorneys general in a lawsuit claiming that Facebook unlawfully acquired Instagram and WhatsApp and that it unlawfully maintained its monopoly power in the market for personal social networking services.