Google faces a nationwide antitrust blitz as 36 states sign a lawsuit attacking its control of Android’s app store

Google Play
Google has dismissed the legal action as ‘meritless.’ Getty Images
  • Attorneys general from 36 states – and Washington D.C. – lodged an antitrust suit against Google.
  • The suit accuses Google of working to undermine alternative app stores available on Android devices.
  • Google called the suit “meritless”, saying it was not about “helping the little guy.”
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Google is facing yet another nationwide antitrust lawsuit in the US, with attorney generals from 36 states – and Washington D.C. – lodging a complaint over its control of the Android app store.

The move comes six months after a coalition of 48 states lodged an antitrust complaint over the tech giant’s online advertising practices, accusing it of engaging in anticompetitive behavior by abusing its dominance in online ad sales.

The new suit, filed in the California federal court, is just the latest in a series of ongoing antitrust actions taken against tech firms by authorities in the US and Europe.

It claims that Google controls 90% of the market for Android apps, and accuses the tech giant of working to undermine competing app stores (such as Samsung’s Galaxy Store), and refusing to let other app stores advertise on its search engine or YouTube.

The complaint also takes aim at Google’s plan to charge app developers using its app store to pay a 30% commission fee on goods and services, which comes into force in September.

In effect, this will mean the likes of Netflix or Spotify – or any app where you pay for an in-app digital purchase – will be taxed.

The move will bring Play’s rules in line with those of Apple’s App Store, the latter of which sparked a dramatic legal battle between the iPhone maker and “Fortnite” developer Epic Games last year.

In a blog post published on Wednesday, Google branded the complaint “meritless”, insisting its Play store competes “vigorously”, “helps developers succeed”, and “increases competition and choice.”

“The complaint is peppered with inflammatory language designed to distract from the fact that our rules on Android and Google Play benefit consumers,” it reads.

“This lawsuit isn’t about helping the little guy or protecting consumers. It’s about boosting a handful of major app developers who want the benefits of Google Play without paying for it.”

The tech giant also said that scrutiny was appropriate but that Android and Google Play provided “openness and choice that other platforms simply don’t.”

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