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December 22, 2023

Attorney General Bird Announces $700 Million Settlement with Google Over Anticompetitive Practices

DES MOINES—Tuesday, Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird joined a bipartisan coalition of 53 attorneys general in announcing a $700 million settlement with Google. The settlement resolves a lawsuit alleging anticompetitive practices within the Google Play Store.

The lawsuit, filed in 2021, alleged Google unlawfully monopolized and abused its dominance in the Android app distribution and in-app payment processing markets. The lawsuit claimed that Google: 

  • Blocked competitors by signing anticompetitive contracts to keep other app stores off Android devices. 
  • Bought out app developers who could have launched rival app stores. 
  • Created technological barriers to deter Iowans from downloading apps outside of the Google Play Store.

“No company should be able to monopolize their market and force their competitors out,” said Attorney General Bird. “This settlement will protect choice in the marketplace, unlock opportunity for app developers, and reduce costs for hardworking Iowans.”

Google will pay $630 million in restitution to Americans who made purchases on the Google Play Store between August 2016 and September 2023.  Iowans eligible for restitution will be notified of the settlement and will receive automatic payments through PayPal or Venmo, or they can elect to receive a check or ACH transfer. Google will also pay the states $70 million in penalties.

Additionally, the settlement requires Google to reform its business practices, including: 

  • Giving all developers the ability to allow users to pay through in-app billing systems other than Google Play Billing for at least five years. 
  • Allowing developers to offer cheaper prices for their apps and in-app products for Iowans who use alternative, non-Google billing systems for at least five years. 
  • Permitting developers to steer Iowans toward alternative, non-Google billing systems by advertising cheaper prices within their apps themselves for at least five years. 
  • Not entering into 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. 
  • Allowing the installation of third-party apps on Android phones from outside the Google Play Store for at least seven years. 
  • Revising and reducing 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 five years. 
  • Maintaining Android system support for third-party app stores, including allowing automatic updates, for four years. 
  • Not requiring 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. 
  • Submitting compliance reports to an independent monitor who will ensure that Google is not continuing its anticompetitive conduct for at least five years.

Iowa joined the North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, New York, and California-led lawsuit along with all remaining states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Read the full settlement agreement here


For More Information:

Alyssa Brouillet | Communications Director

(515) 823-9112

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