Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, together with attorneys general from every state and many territories, has reached a $700 million settlement with Google for anticompetitive behavior related to the Google Play Store.
Google must pay $630 million in reparations to customers who purchased on the Google Play Store between August 2016 and September 2023 who were injured by Google’s anticompetitive actions. In addition, the internet behemoth will pay the states an extra $70 million in fines. The deal also compels Google to improve its business operations in order to reduce its unfair market advantage over other firms and consumers.
In 2021, a group of state attorneys general sued Google for illegally monopolizing the market for Android app distribution and in-app payment processing. Google, in particular, inked anticompetitive contracts to prohibit competing app shops from being installed on Android devices, bribed important app developers not to launch items on competitor app stores, and erected technological impediments to discourage users from downloading programs straight to their devices.
“Texas has led the nation in the fight to hold giant tech companies accountable for monopolistic activity,” said Attorney General Paxton. “I am proud that this settlement brought together so many states who recognized the importance of protecting free markets.”
The $70 million fund to be provided by Google into escrow, interestingly, shall be apportioned among the states as the attorneys general see fit and may be used for the following purposes:
- antitrust or consumer protection law enforcement;
- deposit into a state antitrust or consumer protection account (e.g.,
revolving account, trust account), for use in accordance with the state laws governing that
- deposit into a fund exclusively dedicated to assisting state attorneys
general enforce the antitrust laws by defraying the costs of a) experts, economists, and
consultants in multistate antitrust investigations and litigation, b) training or continuing
education in antitrust for attorneys in state attorney general offices, or c) information
management systems used in multistate antitrust investigations and litigation;
- payment of States’ Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses;
- or for any other purpose as the attorneys general deem appropriate,
consistent with the various states’ laws.
It should suffice to say that Google’s fund could be put to good use fighting other anti-competitive practices in Big Tech, such as coordinated action and collusion to target free speech platforms on social media.