Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Tuesday that the state has signed on to a Department of Justice (DOJ) antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging that the tech giant unlawfully maintained monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices.
The lawsuit represents the first significant federal antitrust lawsuit against a technology company since the DOJ sued Microsoft in 1998.
Landry said he was proud to join U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the attorneys general of 10 other states in what he calls a “fight for America.”
“Google has grown into a big tech monopoly that has stifled competition,” Landry said in a press release. “Without competition, we do not have capitalism; and without capitalism, we do not have America.”
The complaint alleges that Google violated federal antitrust laws by entering into long-term agreements with tech companies, like Apple, that made Google the default search engine on their devices. On other devices, Google search applications are often prominently located and undeletable.
The advantage Google gains from these exclusivity agreements brings Google higher profits and allows the company to outbid others in a “self-reinforcing cycle of monopolization,” the complaint said.
Barr said in a statement that as a result of these practices, “no one can feasibly challenge Google’s dominance in search and search advertising.”
According to the complaint, Google accounts for 80 percent of all online searches in the U.S. and 95 percent of searches on mobile devices.
In a written statement, Google Senior Vice President of Global Affairs Kent Walker called the Department of Justice’s claims “dubious.”
“Yes, like countless other businesses, we pay to promote our services, just like a cereal brand might pay a supermarket to stock its products at the end of a row or on a shelf at eye level,” Walker said. “Our agreements with Apple and other device makers and carriers are not different from the agreements that many other companies have traditionally used to distribute software.”
Walker said other search engines are readily available on all of those devices, “if you want to use them.”
Landry and the other states’ attorneys general participating in the suit are all Republicans, stoking concerns that the timing of the action is intended to bolster President Donald Trump as he vies for reelection.
Letitia James, the Democratic attorney general of New York, said in a statement Tuesday that a separate, bipartisan group of state attorneys general are investigating Google for similar antitrust violations, and would be willing to sign on to the DOJ lawsuit if their investigation reaches the same conclusion.