by Tony Cantu
AUSTIN, TX — Texas has joined a multi-state lawsuit against Google accusing the company of monopolizing the search engine market.
In an advisory, Attorney General Ken Paxton accused Google of engaging in anticompetitive and exclusionary practices that eliminate competition for internet searches and search advertising. Texas joins the U.S. Department of Justice and the States of Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana and South Carolina in filing an antitrust suit challenging Google's exclusionary business practices.
"Google's illegal conduct has allowed it to dominate the search industry by requiring exclusivity from business partners and avoiding competition on the merits while shielding itself from competitors who might threaten its market share," Paxton wrote in his advisory.
Paxton added: "Google's anticompetitive business strategies have disrupted the competitive process, reduced consumer choice, and stifled innovation. The violations set forth in the complaint show that Google no longer resembles the innovative startup it was 20 years ago. Our action today is intended to restore competition and allow rivals and next generation search engines to challenge Google so that the marketplace, not a monopolist, will decide how search services and search ads are offered."
The complaint explains that Google's practices have harmed competition for search services and search advertising not only on mobile devices and personal computers but also on emerging search access points, such as voice assistants, smart speakers, automobiles and Internet of Things devices. Paxton categorized Google's practices as harmful to consumers by reducing choices in areas like privacy, data protection, and use of consumer data, ultimately diminishing the quality of search services. Google's anticompetitive conduct has also given it the ability to increase advertisers' costs and reduce the quality of its advertising services.
But not everyone is supportive of Paxton's move — including some from his own Republican political party. "Before they dismember the goose, lawmakers should look not only at the benefits big tech has provided to consumers but also at the fact that U.S. tech companies' world-wide lead depends on policies that encourage innovation and don't punish companies simply for growing large, former U.S. senator from Texas Phil Gramm told the Wall Street Journal.
For his part, Tom Loeffler, former member of Congress and chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents told the Dallas Morning News: "Antitrust litigation against our technology companies could be shortsighted and misguided, just as was when the government pursued Microsoft in previous years. The companies are critical to our national security, our economy and our future prosperity."
Tom Giovanneti, president of the Dallas-based Institute for Policy Innovation, a public policy research organization, sees the Google suit as a double standard for conservatives: "How is 'take on Big Tech' even a policy issue?" he asked on Twitter. "When the Dems decided to "take on fossil fuels" conservatives rightly objected that that was illegitimate. It isn't legitimate for government to 'take on' ANY legal industry."