Google Now Facing Massive Legal Action in the United States

By Bill Toulas / July 8, 2021

Google is constantly in legal trouble, being a business colossus following questionable practices, but the latest developments in the United States stand out due to the coordinated action and the type of the plaintiffs. More specifically, 36 U.S. states have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of California, San Francisco, alleging that Google employs anti-competitive barriers on the Play Store to protect its monopoly on the Android space. The list of violations alleged in the suit includes eight causes of action, while the “prayer for relief” section is pretty extensive too.

The lawsuit’s goal isn’t to award damages but rather to press Google to fundamentally change its practices around the Play Store. Examples include stopping needless obstacles or inaccurate warnings when installing apps from outside the Play Store, refrain from using contractual restraints, stop prohibiting app developers from making their software available outside the Play Store, stop paying OEMs to abandon relationships that hurt Google’s monopoly, and stop using data obtained through Google Play payments for any reason (targeted advertising) other than the financial transaction.

Google’s response to this was expectedly aggressive, as the firm needs to stand its ground against such a big and prestigious legal action. The company maintains that Google Play competes vigorously and fairly, underlining that the lawsuit fails to identify Apple’s App Store as a competitor and a viable alternative for consumers. Additionally, concerning the developer accusations, Google believes that its billing policy is helping everyone grow, with only 3% paying the set cut of 30% and 99% of that portion paying a reduced fee of 15%.

As Google explains, if large app developers like Epic were given the freedom to use their own payment system and circumvent that of the Play Store, that would result in harming the ecosystem as a whole. The risk of that would have to do with the absence of a central fraud protection and refund system, inability to track purchases and receive alerts that help evade shady subscription renewals, etc.

All in all, Google characterizes the action as a meritless lawsuit that ignores Android’s openness, but all of that will have to be decided in the court of law. The same applies to Apple, which faces similar legal actions for almost exactly the same reasons. U.S. State Attorney Generals believe that users, developers, and software publishers should enjoy choice without repercussions and that all excuses made about user safety are only there to mask the real intention, which is to strangle competition.

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