NC NEWSLINE - Attorney General Josh Stein announced that he and 52 other attorneys general had reached a $700 million agreement with Google in a lawsuit over the search engine’s behavior with its Google Play Store.
“No company is too big to play by the rules,” Stein, who is running for governor, said in a statement. “As a result of this agreement, people who were harmed by these practices will be reimbursed, and Google will stop its anticompetitive practices. I will always fight to protect competition to keep prices lower and foster innovation.”
Attorneys general sued Google in 2021, arguing it monopolized the Android app distribution and its payment processing method. The lawsuit alleged Google crowded out competitors from having their apps being preloaded on Android devices by signing anti-competitive contracts and buying out app developers who could have been rivals. It also claimed Google erected tech barriers that dissuaded consumers from downloading other apps to their Androids.
Per the agreement, Google will pay $630 million in restitution to those who spent money in the Google Play Store between August 2016 and September 2023. Google also will pay states $70 million.
Those eligible for money from Google do not have to submit a claim. They’ll get automatic payments through PayPal or Venmo, or they can choose to get a check or ACH transfer. Stein’s office said they will provide more information about how to claim the money at a later date.
The settlement isn’t just about the money. Google, which in 2020 became the third American tech company to reach a $1 trillion valuation, also has to change its business practices. Some of those reforms are:
- Allowing developers to send consumers to alternative, non-Google billing systems by advertising cheaper prices for at least the next five years
- Not entering contracts that mandate the Google Play Store to be the exclusive app pre-loaded on a device or Home Screen for at least five years
- Submitting compliance reports for at least the next five years to an independent watchdog who will make sure Google is not reverting back to anticompetitive behavior
Click here to read a copy of the settlement and the rest of the reforms Google is required to make.