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Arkansas Joins Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen

A group of Republican state attorneys general, along with the Department of Justice, is accusing Google of forming a monopoly on internet search engines and online advertising.

Arkansas joins 10 other states and the DOJ in bringing the lawsuit against the tech giant, which was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Speaking on NPR’s Morning Edition Wednesday, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said the company’s argument that its popularity stems from simply having the best product is flawed.

“They control 90%-plus of the market space in this area, and so it's not hard to shut out competition when you've already shut out competition,” Rutledge said. “Google has now become a verb. It's not simply a noun, it's not simply a company, it’s a verb. And so people use it to describe, even if they were using Bing or some other search engine, they will say ‘well let me Google that’ and they might go to Bing.”

The lawsuit accuses Google of suppressing competition by entering agreements with other companies like Apple and Samsung to have their software pre-loaded onto devices and to set Google as the device’s default search engine.

Rutledge says the lawsuit doesn’t necessarily seek to break up the company, but rather encourage Google to allow for more competition.

“I think it’s allowing more competition to come in. There are so many new and innovative models for search emerging, but in order for those models to have a chance we need Google to break its stranglehold over the internet,” Rutledge said. “So it doesn't mean breaking apart the company, it means breaking apart the stranglehold, breaking apart that 90-plus-percent of the marketplace.”

Rutledge said she would also consider investigating companies like Facebook which have been accused of silencing political speech in the runup to the November election.

“It has been concerning in recent weeks and months with what we’re seeing with big tech companies who are blocking speech on their platforms; speech that is not necessarily violent or destructive, but rather speech that they do not agree with. And so we want all Americans, whatever platform they’re using, to be able to exercise their free speech,” Rutledge said.

A Google official called the lawsuit “deeply flawed” in a blog post Tuesday. Rutledge joins attorneys general from Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas in the suit.

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