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California files to join DOJ antitrust suit against Google

State AG is the 12th to accuse the search giant of anti-competitive practices

FBI, DOJ badge on a crest

California has become the latest state to sue Google for antitrust practices in the search and advertising markets, filing a request to join an existing Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit that also includes multiple other states.

On October 20, the DOJ and 11 states sued Google, accusing it of using anti-competitive practices in the search and advertising markets.

The suit said Google used exclusionary agreements to lock up the search engine market by requiring it to be the default search engine for mobile devices and computers. The complaint called out its long-term agreement with Apple to be the default search engine on iOS devices. It also said Google used agreements prohibiting the pre-installation of any competing search services.

California seeks no changes to the suit other than to add its name to those litigating against the search and advertising giant.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra accused Google of rigging the advertising market. "This lawsuit paves the way for search engine innovation with greater regard for privacy and data protection," he said in a statement posted Friday.

The lawsuit was the culmination of a yearlong DOJ and multi-state investigation into Google's business practices — California didn't participate in the investigations. Instead, California conducted its own antitrust probe, according to Politico

Whereas the DOJ sued Google under the Sherman antitrust act, California has its own antitrust laws: the Cartwright Act and the Unfair Competition Act, which allow government enforcers to seek civil penalties for violations.

Google responded to the original lawsuit in October, calling its antitrust arguments "dubious" and arguing that its agreements are no different than those other companies have used to distribute software. it also said rival search services paid to be featured as prominent options on Apple's Safari browser.

California's move against Google came two days after it sued Facebook for antitrust practices as part of a wide-ranging action against the social media firm that included the FTC and 48 states.

If courts grant its request, California will join Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas in the lawsuit against Google.

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