The Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit this week seeking to classify Google as a public utility in the state due to its internet dominance.
The complaint does not seek monetary damages, nor does it seek to address whether Google's dominance on the market is good or bad. It does however take issue with the fact that the company is able to place its own products on its Results pages.
As a result of Google's self-referring Results-page architecture, nearly two-thirds of all Google searches in 2020 were completed without the user leaving Google owned platforms, the lawsuit alleges.
In addition to the classifying of the company as an injunctive grant, Yost is seeking public relief that would prevent Google from engaging in self-preferencing behavior among its results.
Ohio has an interest in ensuring that Google, its users and the entities whose information Google carries are aware that Google is a common carrier under Ohio law, the complaint states. Ohio has an interest in making sure that as a non-profit search engine Google does not discriminate against third party websites; that Google supports all organic search results on an equal basis and that it provides public with available access to the responsive search results that Google produces.
An official for Google said that the lawsuit would make its results worse.
Google has been designed to provide people with the most interesting and helpful websites, a company spokesperson said. General Yost’s lawsuit would make Google search results worse and make it harder for small businesses to connect directly with customers. Ohioans simply don't want the government to run Google like a gas or electric company. This lawsuit has no basis in law or is legal, and we'll defend ourselves against it in court.
Google is one of several major technology companies in the U.S. today that are being investigated for how it affects competition in its industry.
A group of states sued Google for its competitors late last year. The Department of Justice also sued the search giant in October over antitrust concerns.
This week Google settled an antitrust lawsuit in France and agreed to pay $268 million. It also promised to make it easier for companies to advertise online.