Raúl Torrez | Attorney General

Attorney General Balderas Joins Multistate Lawsuit Seeking to End Google’s Illegal Monopoly in Online Search Market

For Immediate Release:
December 17, 2020
Contact: Matt Baca — (505) 270-7148

Santa Fe, NM — Attorney General Hector Balderas today joined a bipartisan coalition of
38 attorneys general in suing Google LLC for anticompetitive conduct in violation of
federal law. The states allege that Google illegally maintains its monopoly power over
general search engines and related advertising markets through a series of
anticompetitive exclusionary contracts and conduct. As a result, 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.
“For decades, big tech has enriched itself at the expense of innovation, small businesses,
and the privacy and economic security of New Mexican families,” said Attorney General
Balderas. “My office will fight on behalf of New Mexican consumers and families and hold
these companies accountable to ensure competitiveness in the twenty first century
marketplace.”
The states’ complaint is consistent with the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice
on October 20, which alleged that Google improperly maintains its monopoly power in
general search and search advertising through the use of exclusionary agreements.
However, the states’ filing asserts additional allegations and describes Google’s
monopoly maintenance scheme as a multi-part effort. The lawsuit alleges that Google:
• Uses exclusionary agreements and other practices to limit the ability of rival
general search engines and potential rivals to reach consumers. This conduct
cements Google as the go-to search engine on computers and mobile devices
• Disadvantages users of its search-advertising management tool, SA360, by
promising that it would not favor Google search advertising over that of
competing search engines such as Bing. Instead, Google continuously favors
advertising on its own platform, inflating its profits to the detriment of advertisers
and consumers
• Discriminates against specialized search sites – such as those that provide travel,
home repair, or entertainment services – by depriving them access to prime real
estate because these competing sites threaten Google’s revenue and dominant
position
The attorneys general argue that more competition in the general search engine market
would benefit consumers, for example, though improved privacy protections and more
targeted results and opportunities for consumers and smaller businesses. Competitive
general search engines also could offer better quality advertising and lower prices to
advertisers.
The attorneys general expand on the U.S. DOJ’s allegation that Google’s anticompetitive
conduct continues. As explained in the complaint, the company seeks to deploy the same
exclusionary contracting tactics to monopolize the emerging ways consumers access
general search engines, such as through their home smart speakers, televisions, or in
their cars. In so doing, Google is depriving consumers of competitive choices and blocking
innovation. The states also go further than the U.S. DOJ in explaining how Google’s
acquisition and command of vast amounts of data – obtained in increasing part because
of consumers’ lack of choice – has fortified Google’s monopoly and created significant
barriers for potential competitors and innovators.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The
attorneys general ask the court to halt Google’s illegal conduct and restore a competitive
marketplace. The states also seek to unwind any advantages that Google gained as a
result of its anticompetitive conduct, including divestiture of assets as appropriate. Finally,
the court is asked to provide any additional relief it determines appropriate, as well as
reasonable fees and costs to the states.
Attorney General Balderas joins in the lawsuit with the attorneys general of Arizona,
Colorado Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York,
North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,
South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia,
Wyoming, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.

Raul Torrez

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