Ohio files lawsuit to declare Google a public utility

Source: The Hill | June 8, 2021 | Rebecca Klar

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) on Tuesday filed a lawsuit asking the court to declare Google a public utility, which would subject the Silicon Valley giant to government regulation. 

Yost’s complaint, filed in Delaware County Court, alleges Google has used its dominance as a search engine to prioritize its own products over “organic search results” in a way that “intentionally disadvantages competitors.” 

“Google uses its dominance of internet search to steer Ohioans to Google’s own products–that’s discriminatory and anti-competitive,” Yost said in a statement. “When you own the railroad or the electric company or the cellphone tower, you have to treat everyone the same and give everybody access.”

The complaint alleges that as a result of Google’s “self-preferencing Results-page architecture,” nearly two-thirds of Google searches in 2020 were completed without users leaving Google-owned platforms, meaning users either never left the search page, or clicked to another Google platform such as YouTube, Google Flights, Google Maps, Google News, Google Shopping or Google Travel. 

Ohio is the first state to bring such a lawsuit against Google. 

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