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Marshall, state AGs took on Big Tech and won: Google to pay $700M settlement

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced the biggest of big tech, Google, has agreed to a massive $700 million settlement involving Alabama and 52 other states. The settlement comes after a lawsuit was filed by the various states’ attorney generals alleging that Google was engaging in anticompetitive conduct with its Google Play Store.

“Our settlement holds Google accountable,” Marshall said, “and makes a strong statement to big tech companies that they, too, must comply with our laws which are guided by a capitalistic free market, and treat consumers fairly.”

The state AGs sued Google in 2021 alleging that Google unlawfully monopolized the market Android app distribution and in-app payment processing. Specifically, 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.

Per the settlement, 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 Google’s anti competitive practices.

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Google will also pay the states an additional $70 million for their sovereign claims. Those 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 set to be released. The agreement also requires Google to make their business practices more pro competitive.

As a result of the lawsuit Google will now have to:

  • 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 the 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

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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