Google to pay $700M to U.S. states over accusations of restraining competition

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A $700 million settlement from Google has been reached stemming from a lawsuit filed in 2021 and joined by all 50 states over accusations of anticompetitive conduct by the web giant’s Google Play Store.

As announced by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, Google will pay $630 million in restitution, minus costs and fees, to consumers who made purchases on the Google Play Store between August 2016 and September 2023 and were harmed by the company’s anticompetitive practices.

The states claimed that Google signed anticompetitive contracts to prevent other app stores from being preloaded on Android devices, bought off key app developers who might have launched rival app stores, and created technological barriers to deter consumers from directly downloading apps to their devices.

People eligible for restitution do not have to submit a claim. They will receive automatic payments through PayPal or Venmo, or they can elect to receive a check or ACH transfer. More details about that process are to come.

“Anti-competitive business practices hurt businesses, consumers, and the economy as a whole,” Fitch said. “Through this settlement, the individuals who were impacted will receive restitution and Google will improve their policies to increase competition, innovation, and consumer choice. It is my hope that this settlement will serve as an important reminder that no business is above accountability, regardless of their size, popularity, or influence.”

Google will pay the states an additional $70 million for their sovereign claims.

The settlement requires Google to reform its business practices in the following ways:

  • Give all developers the ability to allow users to pay through in-app billing systems other than Google Play Billing for at least five years.
  • Allow developers to offer cheaper prices for their apps and in-app products for consumers who use alternative, non-Google billing systems for at least five years.
  • Permit developers to steer consumers toward alternative, non-Google billing systems by advertising cheaper prices within their apps themselves for at least five years.
  • Not enter contracts that require the Play Store to be the exclusive, pre-loaded app store on a device or home screen for at least five years.
  • Allow the installation of third-party apps on Android phones from outside the Google Play Store for at least seven years.
  • Revise and reduce the warnings that appear on an Android device if a user attempts to download a third-party app from outside the Google Play Store for at least 5 years.
  • Maintain Android system support for third-party app stores, including allowing automatic updates, for four years.
  • Not require developers to launch their app catalogs on the Play Store at the same time as they launch on other app stores for at least four years.
  • Submit compliance reports to an independent monitor who will ensure that Google is not continuing its anticompetitive conduct for at least 5 years.

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