Google is accused of using its search dominance to bludgeon competition and thwart innovation to the detriment of users.
California is seeking to join the United States Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google parent Alphabet Inc, one of the state’s largest businesses.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed the motion to join the case in federal court on Friday.
“Google’s anticompetitive behaviour has unlawfully maintained the company’s monopoly on internet search and search-based advertising at the expense of consumers,” said Becerra.
The Justice Department sued Google in October. The case, filed in federal court in Washington, DC, alleges that Google uses billions of dollars collected from advertisers to pay phone manufacturers to ensure Google is the default search engine on browsers. This, the lawsuit claims, harms consumers and stifles smaller rivals.
Eleven states, all with Republican attorneys general, joined the federal government in the lawsuit at the time. California is the first Democratic state announcing its intent to join the Justice Department’s case.
Along with the US Federal Trade Commission and 47 other states and territories, Becerra also sued Facebook this week for allegedly violating federal antitrust laws by buying smaller competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp to maintain a monopoly. Also this week, President-elect Joe Biden picked Becerra to be his health secretary
Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, has until December 18 to respond to the state’s motion.
The company said it is “confident” in its position and will continue to make its case in court.
“People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives,” the company said in a statement.