A lawsuit filed on Tuesday by Ohio Attorney General David Yost aims to make Google a public utility, limiting the ways the search engine provides search results.
“Google uses its dominance of internet search to steer Ohioans to Google’s own products–that’s discriminatory and anti-competitive,” Yost said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “When you own the railroad or the electric company or the cellphone tower, you have to treat everyone the same and give everybody access.”
The lawsuit — filed in Delaware County Court — seeks two main results: a declaration that Google is a common carrier subject to proper government regulation and reducing Google’s power to prioritize the placement of its own products, services and websites on search results pages.
In many ways, the lawsuit is inspired by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ recent concurring opinion. In his opinion, Thomas argues that Twitter and similar companies could face regulation as common carriers.
He said, “In many ways, digital platforms that hold themselves out to the public resemble traditional common carriers.” He continues, “A traditional telephone company laid physical wires to create a network connecting people. Digital platforms lay information infrastructure that can be controlled in much the same way.”
This is not the first time Attorney General Yost has directed his attention toward Google. Last year, he joined 37 other attorneys general in a federal lawsuit against Google for conduct that violates Section 2 of the Sherman Act, meant to limit the ability to form a monopoly.
The lawsuit is yet another example of Republican officials attempting to reign in the power of “big tech.” In Florida, the state enacted a law that allows citizens the right to sue the companies and also prohibits the companies from de-platforming Floridian political candidates.
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