Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit this week seeking to classify Google as a public utility in the state due to its internet search dominance.
The complaint does not seek monetary damages, nor does it seek to address whether Google’s dominance in the market is good or bad. It does, however, take issue with the fact that the company is able to feature its own products on its results pages.
"As a result of Google’s self-preferencing Results-page architecture, nearly two-thirds of all Google searches in 2020 were completed without the user leaving Google owned platforms," the lawsuit alleges.
In addition to classifying the company as a public utility, Yost is seeking injunctive relief that would prevent Google from engaging in self-preferencing behaviors among its search results.
"Ohio has an interest in ensuring that Google, its users, and the entities whose information Google carries are aware that Google Search is a common carrier under Ohio law," the complaint reads. "Ohio also has an interest in ensuring that as a common carrier Google Search does not unfairly discriminate against third party websites; that Google carries all responsive search results on an equal basis; and that it provides the public with ready access to organic search results that the Google Search algorithms produce."
A spokesperson for Google said the lawsuit would make its results "worse."
"Google Search is designed to provide people with the most relevant and helpful results," a company spokesperson said. "AG Yost's lawsuit would make Google Search results worse and make it harder for small businesses to connect directly with customers. Ohioans simply don't want the government to run Google like a gas or electric company. This lawsuit has no basis in fact or law and we'll defend ourselves against it in court."
Google is one of several major technology companies in the U.S. that is facing scrutiny over how it affects competition in its industry.
A group of states sued Google late last year over its competitive practices. The Department of Justice also sued the search giant in October over antitrust concerns.
This week Google settled an antitrust lawsuit in France and agreed to pay $268 million. It also promised to make it easier for companies to advertise online.