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UK Consumers File £7.3 Billion Lawsuit Against Google

Google faces a new lawsuit on behalf of UK consumers, claiming the tech giant is abusing market dominance and adding to cost-of-living price rises.

The class action lawsuit, filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, claims that Google has stifled competition in mobile searches, raising prices for advertisers using the Google search page.

The higher prices are then translated into higher costs for consumers, who end up paying more for goods and services advertised on Google.

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The claim goes on to say that Google forced manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search and Google Chrome browser apps on devices in order to obtain a licence to use Google Play.

The tech giant has also paid off Apple to make the Google search engine the default browser on iPhones and other devices operating on iOS, the lawsuit claimed.

The class action was launched by the co-founder of the group Consumer Voice, Nikki Stopford, and funded by Hereford Litigation, a commercial litigation funder.

The lawsuit seeks £7.3 billion in compensation for UK consumers, affected by Google’s practices. If the claim is won, each consumer could be owed £100.

Ms. Stopford said that Google has broken the consumers’ trust by raising prices for products and services through its dominance of the search engine market.

“It’s a clear breach of competition law, for which consumers are paying the price. Google has been warned about its behaviour by competition regulators repeatedly but has taken no meaningful action to stop the abuse,” Ms. Stopford said.

The effects of stifled competition are felt throughout the UK economy, according to the law firm Hausfeld & Co. LLP, representing Ms. Stopford.

“Google provides a great service, but it isn’t free. This claim says that Google has choked off competition in search engines for years, to the detriment of the businesses that use its services – and, ultimately, consumers,” said Luke Streatfeild, a partner at Hausfeld.

Responding to the lawsuit launch, a Google spokesperson called the case “speculative and opportunistic.”

The company will argue against it “vigorously,” the spokesperson added.

“People use Google because it is helpful. We only make money if ads are useful and relevant, as indicated by clicks – at a price that is set by a real-time auction. Advertising plays a crucial role in helping people discover new businesses, new causes and new products,” the statement concluded.

Google has been fined for anti-competitive conduct in the past. In 2022, the European Court of Justice slapped a £3.6 billion fine on the tech giant.

The court ruled that Google was forcing Android device manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search app and Chrome browser in order to obtain a licence to use its Google Play store.

Google also faces an ongoing probe by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), opened in 2022. The CMA is investigating whether Google has broken the law by restricting competition in the digital advertising technology market.
The competition regulator said it was “worried” that Google may be abusing its position in ad tech to favour its own services “to the detriment of its rivals, of its customers and ultimately of consumers.”

At least 94 percent of the mobile devices sector has Google as the default search engine, said the CMA.

The ongoing investigation by the regulator has been extended to October 2023.

The CMA also reported that in 2019, Google paid Apple approximately £1.2 billion to secure its default status on Safari in the UK alone. In the same year, UK advertisers spent around £1.8 billion on online advertising.
January saw the U.S. Justice Department and several Attorneys General file a civil antitrust suit against Google for

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