Google has been accused of manipulating search in the third major antitrust lawsuit

The 38-state coalition filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Thursday, focusing on building the technology giant’s search engine. This is the third major antitrust lawsuit filed against the search giant this year.

Phil Weiser, the Democratic Attorney General of Colorado, and Doug Peterson, the Republican Attorney General of Nebraska, led the bipartisan state group’s lawsuit accusing Google of anti-competitive behavior, such as designing its search engine to use the company’s own products against its competitors.

“Google sits at the crossroads of many areas of our digital economy and has used its dominance to illegally squeeze competitors, monitor almost every aspect of our digital lives, and make billions in profits,” said Letitia James, New York’s Democratic Attorney General. in his statement on Thursday.

According to a press release from the New York Attorney General’s Office, states are asking the court to stop Google’s illegal behavior and “restore a competitive market”. They also seek to “offset the benefits that Google has gained through its anti-competitive behavior,” including any divestitures.

Google did not respond immediately to the request for comment.

State searches specifically targeted Google’s market power and ability to drive certain sites and services out of search results. “Google sells ads to some specialized vertical service providers, but unnecessarily limits their usefulness depending on the commercial segment involved,” the lawsuit says. “Because of the strength of the monopoly, Google is extracting huge amounts of proprietary customer data from some specialized vertical service providers that Google can use to compete against them.”

Thursday’s lawsuit is just the latest in a lawsuit against Google. On Wednesday, the Attorney General of the State of Texas announced new antitrust charges against the search giant. However, the Texas-led lawsuit focused on Google’s advertising technology practices, primarily with the company’s claims against publishers. The Department of Justice also filed its own lawsuit in October with 11 Republican public prosecutors, focusing on Google’s exclusive contracts with Android smartphone makers and Apple to set their own search engine as the default on these devices.

Shortly after the DOJ filed its Android case in the fall, Kent Walker, Google’s vice president of global affairs, said Google plans to challenge the lawsuit.

“People use Google because they choose, not because they force them or because they can’t find alternatives,” Walker said then. “This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers.”

In 2019, the Department of Justice announced a comprehensive antitrust investigation into the technology industry, including companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. In the months following the announcement, the DOJ worked alongside the states to build cases for these companies. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission and dozens of states filed separate lawsuits to dismantle Facebook, dissolving the social media company’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp.