Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

Marshall, fellow AGs reach $700M antitrust settlement with Google

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, along with 52 other state attorneys general announced Wednesday that a $700 million settlement had been reached with tech giant Google over alleged anticompetitive conduct related to its app store, known as the Google Play Store.

The attorney general coalition, which included attorneys general from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, sued Google in 2021 on antitrust grounds, arguing that the tech giant had monopolized the app market by signing “anticompetitive contracts” to prevent other app stores from being preloaded on Android devices.

Additionally, Marshall and his colleagues argued in the lawsuit that Google had “bought off” key app developers and persuaded them to not launch rival app stores, and also created mechanisms to deter consumers from downloading apps on their Android devices outside of the Google Play Store.

“Our settlement holds Google accountable, and makes a strong statement to big tech companies that they, too, must comply with our laws which are guided by a capitalistic free market, and treat consumers fairly,” Marshall said Wednesday in a statement.

Of the $700 million, $630 million will be awarded to consumers who made purchases on the Google Play Store between August 2016 and September 2023. The remaining $70 million will be paid to states.

Affected consumers will receive a minimum of $2 as part of the settlement, plus additional payments based on Google Play Store purchases during the eligible time period.

Wilson White, Google’s vice president of governmental affairs and public policy, said that while the company was “disappointed” with the verdict, the settlement will allow for Google to build on “Android’s choice and flexibility.”

“… (The settlement) maintains strong security protections, and retains Google’s ability to compete with other OS makers, and invest in the Android ecosystem for users and developers,” White said in a blog post. “We’re pleased to resolve our case with the states and move forward on a settlement.”

The settlement is just the latest example of the federal government filing antitrust suits against big tech companies, with Microsoft, Meta facing similar antitrust lawsuits earlier this year. Google is facing additional lawsuits from the federal government over alleged anticompetitive practices, including one filed in January over its advertising practices, and another over its search engine.

As part of the settlement, Google will also be required to amend its business practices in the following ways:

  • Give all developers the ability to allow users to pay through in-app billing systems other than Google Play Billing for at least five years;
  • Permit developers to steer consumers toward alternative, non-Google billing systems by advertising cheaper prices within their apps themselves for at least five years;
  • Not enter contracts that require the Play Store to the be the exclusive, pre-loaded app store on a device or home screen for at least five years;
  • Allow the installation of third-party apps on Android phones from outside the Google Play Store for at least seven years;
  • Revise and reduce the warnings that appear on an Android device if a user attempts to download a third-party app from outside the Google Play Store for at least 5 years;
  • Submit compliance reports to an independent monitor who will ensure that Google is not continuing its anticompetitive conduct for at least 5 years.

Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia