California attorney general becomes first Democrat to support federal antitrust action against Google, as states mull additional actions
California has asked to join the antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice against Google, the state said in a court filing.
California is Google’s home state and the state’s attorney general is the first Democrat to announce support for the Justice Department’s action, joining the eleven Republican attorneys general who initially pledged their support.
California did not join a group of 48 states that announced an antitrust probe into Google’s activities last year, leading to criticism that it was being overly lenient on a company in its own territory.
The state has, however, reportedly pursued its own investigation into Google.
The states’ investigations may still result in a separate state-level competition lawsuits against Google. States could also choose to combine their complaints with the federal lawsuit, expanding its allegations.
The Justice Department in October accused Google of illegally using its market dominance in search and advertising to stifle competition.
California said it was not making “substantive changes” to the federal lawsuit or adding any “new facts or claims”, attorney general Xavier Becerra said in the filing on Friday, adding that the move would not delay the case.
Google said customers use its products out of free choice and not a lack of competition.
“We’ll continue to make our case in court,” the company said in a statement.
Google has until 18 December to respond to California’s request, said US District Judge Amit Mehta.
The Justice Department said California’s move shows that the Google’s actions have attracted “bipartisan concerns”.
Becerra, who has been chosen by president-elect Joe Biden as his nominee for secretary of health and human services, said Google had “stifled competition”.
“By using exclusionary agreements to dominate the market, Google has stifled competition and rigged the advertising market,” he said in a statement.
“This lawsuit paves the way for search engine innovation with greater regard for privacy and data protection.”