Google files complaint in Ohio to declare search engine to be of public utility


Google is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Ohio attorney general to declare the search giant to be of public utility, according to a petition filed Friday.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) filed a lawsuit in June, arguing that the Silicon Valley giant has used its dominance to prioritize its own products in a way that “intentionally puts its competition at a disadvantage. “.

Google’s lawyers argue in the petition that the search giant does not meet the state’s requirements to be considered a common carrier.

“The Ohio complaint incorrectly assumes that Google Search is a public operator or a utility because Ohio residents choose to use Google Search. Under Ohio law, carriers Utilities charge a fee to provide a standardized service, and utilities are regulated by a set of state regulations. Google has none of these attributes, and there is no legal basis for concluding otherwise, ”says the motion.

“The interest of Google search is to provide results tailored to a specific query. Google search doesn’t send a commodity, but is constantly working to provide useful information in response to people’s unique queries, ”he added.

Yost’s lawsuit is the first of its kind to declare Google a public utility. This would subject the tech giant to further regulation.

“Google is using its dominance of Internet search to direct Ohioans to Google’s own products – it’s discriminatory and anti-competitive,” Yost said in a statement when he filed the complaint. “When you own the railroad, the power company, or the cell phone tower, you have to treat everyone the same and give everyone access. “

But Google’s lawyers argue that designating Google as a public service would be tantamount to doing it for big news outlets or retailers.

Even assuming all of the Attorney General’s allegations are true, as it must be done here, Ohio’s claim has no more legal validity than a claim to declare Fox News, the New York Times or Walmart for “public utility” because most people in a city would rather get their news or their groceries from them than from someone else, “the motion reads.

The Ohio case is one of many legal challenges to Google’s market power.

Google faces two state-led antitrust lawsuits, one related to its power in the online search market and another related to competition in the ad technology market, as well as a case brought by the Department of Justice regarding Google’s search policies.

The company rebuffed allegations of anti-competitive behavior.

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