Ohio lawsuit seeks to declare Google a public utility

FILE - In this March 23, 2010, file photo, the Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
FILE - In this March 23, 2010, file photo, the Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

Credit: Virginia Mayo

Credit: Virginia Mayo

A lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost would declare Google a public utility subject to government regulation.

The lawsuit also argues that the internet search engine intentionally prioritizes other Google products over organic search results, creating a disadvantage for competitors.

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It claims Google has a duty to offer sources and competitors rights equal to its own and should not prioritize its own products, services and websites on its search result pages.

“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 lawsuit read. “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.”

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The lawsuit was filed in Delaware County Court and does not seek money damages.

“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.”

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