Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is joining a coalition of 38 attorneys general in suing Google.
The antitrust case alleges Google illegally maintains its monopoly power over general search engines and related advertising markets through a series of anticompetitive exclusionary contracts and conduct. Miller spoke on a conference call today and says the Google case is very much like the suit against Microsoft some 20 years ago.
“The Microsoft case centered on maintenance and monopoly. And this case centers on maintenance and monopoly — and that’s really important,” Miller says. The lawsuit by the states is consistent with the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in October which alleged that Google improperly maintains its monopoly power in general search and search advertising through the use of exclusionary agreements.
“We’re filing the motion to consolidate the case so that will have the cases consolidated in the District of Columbia and litigated together — the Justice Department and the 47 states and the District of Columbia, plus two territories — that this will be a unified effort,” according to Miller. “This case is among other things about power. Google has immense power in the technology world, in the world of the United States in the year 2020. And it’s about the use of that power,” he says.
The lawsuit says Google has deprived consumers of competition that could lead to greater choice, innovation, and better privacy protections. Furthermore, Google has exploited its market position to accumulate and leverage data to the detriment of consumers. “They do maximize their profits that that power grants to them. Including from power of network effects — which makes it in my view a little easier to get to the monopoly and a little easier to maintain that monopoly,” Miller says. “And so, these are questions that are on people’s minds, and rightly so. And I think it’s really important that this case be ligated.”
The attorneys general argue that more competition in the general search engine market would benefit consumers, for example, through improved privacy protections and more targeted results and opportunities for consumers. Iowa is also part of a lawsuit announced December 9th against Facebook, alleging the company broke the law by acquiring potential rivals and cutting smaller competitors off from its platform and services.