Ohio’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Google asking the state to officially declare the Big Tech company a public utility.
“Google uses its dominance of internet search to steer Ohioans to Google’s own products — that’s discriminatory and anti-competitive. When you own the railroad or the electric company or the cellphone tower, you have to treat everyone the same and give everybody access,” Dave Yost said in a press release.
If the declaration is granted, it will subject Google to “proper government regulation.”
“This suit does not seek redress for Google’s dominance of internet search. This suit does not argue that Google’s dominance of internet search is good or bad when viewed in isolation. Those issues are left to be resolved elsewhere. This case accepts Google’s dominance of internet search as a fact (be it good or bad),” the lawsuit states. “Accepting this fact, the first claim is narrowly focused on establishing that Google’s provision of internet search is properly classified as a common carrier and/or public utility under Ohio common law.”
The lawsuit does not seek financial damages. But it seeks to require Google to give competitors equal access to high-performing advertisement placements, search engine priorities, and other special privileges that are currently being used to promote Google’s own websites, goods, and services.
“Google’s mission statement is ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,’” the lawsuit says. “What Google fails to disclose to its user is that it manipulates its presentation of that information to preference its own services, yielding search results that best benefit the interests of Google.”
Google previously faced scrutiny for its anticompetitive practices in December when a group of 38 states sued the company for allegedly violating the Sherman Act and engaging in monopoly behavior by manipulating the search engine and ad markets, which the company’s CEO has previously admitted to.
“As the gateway to the internet, Google has systematically degraded the ability of other companies to access consumers,” the lawsuit stated.
And weeks before, Texas led nine other states in accusing Google and Facebook of collusion to create and maintain an illegal monopoly on digital advertisements. The U.S. Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump also filed a lawsuit against Google for similar antitrust violations in October following a year’s worth of investigation by prosecutors.