Ohio sues Google, seeking to get it declared a public utility

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FILE – In this Aug. 28, 2018, file photo, a cursor moves over Google’s search engine page, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Attorney General Dave Yost filed a state lawsuit Tuesday against Google, seeking to get it declared a public utility in Ohio.

In a news release, Yost said he is seeking to rein in the ways that Google uses its search engine to provide results that favors its products.

“Google uses its dominance of internet search to steer Ohioans to Google’s own products — that’s discriminatory and anti-competitive,” Yost said. “When you own the railroad or the electric company or the cellphone tower, you have to treat everyone the same and give everybody access.”

The suit was filed in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, and it asserts two causes of action:

  • A legal declaration that Google is a common carrier (or public utility) subject to government regulation
  • That Google has a duty to offer sources or competitors equal rights, meaning it should not prioritize the placement of its products, services and websites on results pages. Those rights should extend to advertisements, enhancements, knowledge boxes, integrated specialized searches, direct answers and other features.

The suit does not seek any monetary damages.

In December, Yost joined a group of 38 state attorneys general in suing Google for similar reasons.

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