Ohio asks court to declare Google a public utility

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Ohio asks court to declare Google a public utility

WASHINGTON - Ohio asked a court to declare Alphabet's Google a public utility, a step the state's Republican Attorney General said was intended to prevent the search giant from giving advantage to its own products.

When you own the railroad or the electric company or the cellphone tower, you have to treat everyone the same and give everyone access, Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement.

The suit, which estimates that Google is used for nearly 90% of the internet searches and has 95% of search share on mobile devices, accuses Google of responding to certain searches in a way that prioritizes Google products even if other responses would give better answers.

Google uses its dominance in Internet search to steer Ohioans to Google’s own products - which are abusive and anti-competitive, Yost said.

A Google spokesperson said the company would defend itself in court.

Google search is designed to provide first results to people in the most beneficial world. The Ohioans simply don't want the government to run Google like a gas or electric company. This lawsuit has no actual basis in law or the statement of the spokesperson said.

The lawsuit seeks no monetary damages, but asks the court to require Google not to prioritize its own products. It claims that nearly two-thirds of Google searches were done in 2020 without leaving Google's platform.

It often lists Google products and services in organic formats at the top of the results page above attractive search results. Moreover, Google often uses products in the search results in heightened ways that are designed to capture more clicks, the lawsuit states.

The suit was filed in the common pleas court of Ohio in Delaware County. It is one of several filings held by the federal government and state attorneys general against big tech platforms Google and Facebook.

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