Colorado Attorney General Sues Google Over Antitrust Violations (Again)

Phil WeiseR, Phil weiser
David Zalubowski/AP
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser heads into news conference Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.

The state attorney general’s office is signing on to an antitrust lawsuit against Google. 

The suit, filed in California and joined by 36 states and the District of Columbia, accuses the tech giant of stifling competition by preventing users from installing non-Google app stores on Android phones.

When turning on a new Android phone, Google’s Play Store is the only app marketplace pre-loaded onto the device. Individuals can download and purchase apps through that store, and Google gets a cut of those sales. There are other, independent app stores that users can download from, but the lawsuit alleges Google’s practices discourage their use.  

“Despite promising an open platform, Google has restricted competition from rival app stores and from rival payment processing for in-app purchases. By doing so, Google has limited choice and inflated the prices that consumers pay for purchases made through an app downloaded on the Play Store,” said Colorado Attorney General Phill Weiser in a statement.

The complaint alleges Google violated federal and state antitrust laws by building a monopoly position over Android phones and apps. For example, the lawsuit cites Google’s warnings and barriers that discourage users from downloading apps from sources other than Google’s Play Store. It also objects to Google’s claim that Android operating systems are “open source,” since Google apps are already pre-loaded on all Android devices when people purchase them

Last December, Weiser led a bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general from states and U.S. territories in suing Google over illegally maintaining monopoly power over search engines by using exclusive contracts to prevent competitors from partnering with Google clients. Weiser requested the lawsuit be consolidated with an earlier complaint made by the Department of Justice.

That same month, Weiser and other attorneys general also filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, accusing it of illegally acquiring rival firms to suppress competition.