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States sue Google, adding to antitrust woes for search giant

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The antitrust heat on Google is increasing.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Twitter that his office expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against the Alphabet Inc. GOOGL GOOG search giant on Wednesday. That appears to be a separate effort from other states that were expected to file a suit this week, after the federal government and a dozen states filed suit in October.

“The state of Texas is filing a multistate lawsuit against Google for anticompetitive conduct, exclusionary practices and deceptive misrepresentations,” Paxton said in a video connected to the tweet. “Google repeatedly used its monopolistic power to control pricing, engage in market collusions to rig auctions in a tremendous violation of justice.”

The Justice Department and a dozen states sued Alphabet for monopolistic and anticompetitive actions, targeting the company’s use of a search deal with Apple Inc.
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and the required inclusion of Google apps in its Android mobile operating system to dominate mobile search. Several states’ attorneys general declined to sign on to that lawsuit, though, and Politico reported late Tuesday that those states planned to file an antitrust lawsuit as early as this week.

For more: Google was the first antitrust target, and will be a continuing target

Politico reported that the states plan a broader antitrust lawsuit against Google that focuses on how the company surfaces search results, led by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. Companies such as Yelp Inc.
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and travel websites have complained about Google favoring its own competing services in search results, forcing them to sacrifice traffic to competitive offerings or pay to advertise at the top of search results.

The Texas lawsuit appears to be focused on Alphabet’s strange relationship with the online-advertising market, in which Google fills several key roles on all sides of the market, according to Politico, which reported that Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah would join Texas.

“If the free market were a baseball game, Google positioned itself as the pitcher, the batter and the umpire,” Paxton said in his Twitter video.

Google did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Antitrust scrutiny of Big Tech companies has increased throughout the year, with Facebook Inc.
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joining Google last week as an official target of the federal government as well as states. Apple Inc.
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has been sued by “Fortnite” maker Epic Games Inc., which accuses the iPhone manufacturer as well as Google of misusing their dominant position in mobile apps, and Amazon.com Inc.
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has been targeted by the European Union and is reportedly the focus of a U.S. inquiry as well.

See also: Big Tech has an antitrust target on its back that will only grow

Google shares declined to a 0.6% daily drop immediately after Paxton’s tweet Wednesday, but shares rebounded to a loss of about 0.3%, in line with where it was trading before the announcement . The company’s Class A shares have increased more than 31% so far this year, making Alphabet worth roughly $1.2 trillion, as the S&P 500 index
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has gained 14.4%.

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