Attorney General says Google ‘monopoly’ could cost Utahns even more than they realize

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A total of 37 attorneys general have opened another anti-trust lawsuit against Google Wednesday — and Utah is leading the case against the digital giant.

Attorney General Sean Reyes says the company has a monopoly over apps in its store and in-app purchasing. He also says Google is imposing the in-app fees, which inflate costs on purchases within its app store.

“The monopoly is this: Google forces small app developers to only use the Google Play store,” says Reyes.

By forcing developers to use Google’s in-house billing, the attorney general says Utahns and Americans alike pay up to 30% more in hidden fees. He says other companies charge as low as 3%.

“If we don’t do anything about this, Utahns will continue to get less for their dollar or pay more without even realizing what’s going on,” he adds.

This is the third anti-trust lawsuit against Google since the attorney’s general began investigating the company in 2019. Reyes says it’s similar to the lawsuits against Apple.

“And filing this lawsuit doesn’t preclude us from looking at other entities like Apple. Investigating or possibly filing against them, but we are focused on Google right now,” he says.

With 37 bi-partisan attorney’s general from California to New York signed on to Utah vs Google lawsuit, Reyes hopes this will get some, if not all, of the money back that Utahns and Americans paid to Google.

“This is a critical case because it protects consumers in Utah and it protects small businesses in Utah who otherwise can’t compete with Google,” he says.

Google responded Wednesday night calling the lawsuit strange.

Wilson White, the senior director of public policy for Google, tells us in a statement:

We also built an app store, Google Play, that helps people download apps on their devices. If you don’t find the app you’re looking for in Google Play, you can choose to download the app from a rival app store or directly from a developer’s website. We don’t impose the same restrictions as other mobile operating systems do.

So it’s strange that a group of state attorneys general chose to file a lawsuit attacking a system that provides more openness and choice than others. This complaint mimics a similarly meritless lawsuit filed by the large app developer Epic Games, which has benefitted from Android’s openness by distributing its Fortnite app outside of Google Play.

The Utah v Google lawsuit was filed in California. Stay with ABC4 News as this story develops.

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