“Google is like Godzilla. 37 States Join Utah in Lawsuit Against Tech Giant for App Store Fees



The lawsuit alleges that Google takes up to 30% of purchases made on Android devices.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks in his office about a lawsuit filed by Utah and other states against Google on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Utah to lead a multi-state lawsuit against Google that alleges the search engine giant used its dominance to take advantage of app developers, taking a bigger slice of in-app purchases than could possibly be. considered reasonable.

“We believe these are monopoly actions that need to be dealt with immediately,†Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said Thursday. “Most consumers have no idea that for years Google has charged fees well beyond market rates for in-app purchases.”

The lawsuit alleges that Google, through its Play Store, takes up to 30% of purchases made on devices running its Android operating system, which the attorneys general say harms both app developers and businesses. companies.

“If you’re a gamer and you’re trying to buy an upgrade to get more powers, a pot of gold, a certain skin, you pay more to get less,†Reyes said.

The lawsuit is similar to the legal battle that Epic Games, which produces the hugely popular online game Fortnight, has waged against Apple.

Epic claimed that Apple’s 30% commission on revenue was exorbitant and tried to allow users to pay them directly instead of going through Apple’s App Store. Apple responded by removing Fortnight from the App Store for breaking its rules, which don’t allow out-of-town purchases. Epic continued, saying Apple has a monopoly. Both parties are currently awaiting a decision in this case.

The Android ecosystem is a little different than what you find on Apple. There are other ways for Android users to download apps outside of the Play Store. Amazon and Samsung have their own app stores. Today’s filing claims that Google makes it difficult for users to find and download apps from third-party sites.

“There is a small percentage of apps that exist outside of the Google Play environment. But if you try to use them, Google is deliberately reducing the efficiency of its own operating system so that it doesn’t run as well. well. Because of that, it’s a huge deterrent to trying to bypass the Google Play Store. It’s more expensive. It’s less efficient and consumers don’t get as much value out of it, “Reyes said. .

Utah is already part of a pair of pending lawsuits against Google.

One of them accuses the company of having abused its dominant position in Internet advertising to overcharge advertisements. The second alleges, among other things, that Google has made deals with phone makers to prioritize Google’s online search engine over rivals like DuckDuckGo.

The Justice Department filed a similar lawsuit against Google last year for making exclusive deals to ensure it is the default search engine on browsers and mobile phones. The DOJ claims this amounts to an illegal monopoly on research.

At the end of last month, a federal judge dismissed two antitrust lawsuits against Facebook. The Federal Trade Commission said the company has a monopoly on social media. A separate lawsuit brought by more than 40 states, including Utah, argued that Facebook’s purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp was done to stifle potential competitors. The lawsuit called for Facebook to be forced to sell the two companies. The judge said states had waited too long to challenge those sales.

Reyes says he’s not against big tech, but there must be safeguards to protect consumers from harmful business practices.

“Google is a lot like Godzilla in terms of size. Even when Godzilla tries to save Tokyo or New York City, he might not realize he’s crashing cars and destroying buildings along the way. I think they need to be more diligent and be careful not to hurt people, â€Reyes said.

The lawsuit is just the latest in a number of government actions against big tech companies. Former President Donald Trump on Thursday unveiled a chimerical class action lawsuit accusing Facebook, Twitter and YouTube of “censoring” conservative voices online. Legal experts say the claims are likely doomed in court.

Utah Senator Mike Lee has also sought to reform major tech antitrust laws. He suggested breaking what he described as monopolies for their “severe censorship†of the Conservatives.

Reyes has not quantified the amount of damages that could result from the lawsuit.

“Google has a record of all the transactions they billed. If you look at the delta between the 30% they billed and what the market rate might have been, it’s not too hard to find a figure in the billions, â€Reyes said.

The attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee and New York are also leading the lawsuit with Utah.


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