Google says antitrust lawsuit would 'deprive' Americans of information, 'hurt businesses'

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Google on Thursday said the lawsuit filed against them by attorneys general from more than three dozen states seeks to redesign search in ways that would "deprive Americans" of information and "hurt businesses" in their efforts to connect directly with customers.

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The company's reaction comes after a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from 38 states, led by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, filed a new civil antitrust lawsuit against Google on Thursday. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and eight other attorneys general filed a separate antitrust complaint against the company on Wednesday.

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The lawsuit focuses on what the attorneys general described as Google's "improper maintenance and its monopoly power in general search and search advertising."

Google argued in its response that the platform shows information that helps connect consumers with businesses directly.

"This lawsuit demands changes to the design of Google Search, requiring us to prominently feature online middlemen in place of direct connections to businesses," Google economic policy director Adam Cohen wrote in a blog post Thursday.

"Redesigning Google Search this way would harm the quality of your search results," Cohen argued, adding that it would come "at the expense" of businesses whose listings on Google "help them get discovered."

"They would have a harder time reaching new customers and competing against big commerce and travel platforms and other aggregators and middlemen," Cohen continued, noting that Google search, based on local results, drives "more than 4 billion direct connections for businesses each month."

Cohen added that the claims being made by the attorneys general have been "closely examined and rejected" by regulators and courts "around the world," including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and said that they “agreed that our changes are designed to improve your search results.”

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"We know that scrutiny of big companies is important and we’re prepared to answer questions and work through the issues,” Cohen wrote. "But this lawsuit seeks to redesign Search in ways that would deprive Americans of helpful information and hurt businesses’ ability to connect directly with customers."

Cohen added: "We look forward to making that case in court, while remaining focused on delivering a high-quality search experience for our users."

The lawsuit is similar to the Justice Department’s in that it highlights allegations of Google’s anticompetitive behavior in the general search marketplace, but it goes beyond the DOJ’s complaint in that it accuses Google of monopolizing the way consumers access search engines through smart home and car products.

Google Search has prime placement on more than 90 web browsers, including Google Chrome, the most popular web browser in the U.S., and Apple’s Safari, the complaint states. It also says Google pays Apple between $8 billion and $12 billion annually under the agreement that Google pay Apple "a significant percentage of the Google search advertising revenue generated on Apple personal computers.”

The suit further alleges that Google uses its search advertising tool as a way to suppress competitor search engine advertising tools, which harms smaller advertisers.

Google makes up 90% of all Internet searches in the U.S.; by comparison, no other competitor, such as Bing, makes up more than 7% of U.S. Internet searches and Google's ad revenue has grown 300% within the last decade, according to the lawsuit. The company's share of the search engine market has not dropped below 85% in 10 years, the complaint says.

Fox News' Audrey Conklin contributed to this report. 

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