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California files to join US Justice Department’s Google antitrust lawsuit

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Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google’s home state of California on Friday filed to join a landmark antitrust lawsuit brought against the tech giant in October by the US Department of Justice. 

California’s request to be added to the complaint makes it the first Democratic state to ask to sign on to the case, potentially joining a group of 11 states with Republican attorneys general that are already supporting the DOJ’s suit. California isn’t making any “substantive changes” to the complaint or seeking to add any new facts, according to the filing.

“Google’s market dominance leaves consumers and small businesses with little choice when it comes to internet search engines,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “By using exclusionary agreements to dominate the market, Google has stifled competition and rigged the advertising market. We look forward to litigating this case to restore competition and innovation for California consumers.”

The Justice Department lawsuit alleges Google broke antitrust law by cutting deals with phone makers, such as Apple and Samsung, to be the default search engine on their devices, a move that boxed out competitors. The agency also accuses Google of taking advantage of the dominance of its Android operating system to pressure device makers into preloading its search app and other services on phones powered by the software.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, has called the lawsuit “deeply flawed.” On Friday, the company didn’t address California request to join the lawsuit but said, “We’re confident in our position and we’ll continue to make our case in court.”

Becerra is President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services. He was one of the only holdouts when a coalition of 50 states and territories announced an antitrust investigation into Google last year, led by Texas AG Ken Paxton. California, however, had reportedly launched its own probe. 

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