$700M settlement announced in Google Play Store misconduct case

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Google and a bipartisan group of 53 state, district and territorial attorneys general, including from Hawai‘i, have reached a $700 million settlement in a lawsuit about anti-competitive conduct by the Google Play Store.

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 of this year and were harmed by anti-competitive practices. Google will also pay the states an additional $70 million for their sovereign claims.

People 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 bank transfer.

More details about that process are forthcoming.

Hawai‘i Attorney General Anne Lopez

“This settlement will provide compensation for consumers who made purchases from the Google Play store and requires Google to make substantial changes to its business practices,” said Hawai‘i Attorney General Anne Lopez. “The Department of the Attorney General will continue to work with our partners to monitor Google’s compliance with terms of the settlement.”

The settlement requires Google to reform its business practices in the following ways for at least 5 years:

  • Give all developers the ability to allow users to pay through in-app billing systems other than Google Play Billing.
  • Allow developers to offer cheaper prices for their apps and in-app products for consumers who use alternative, non-Google billing systems.
  • Permit developers to steer consumers toward alternative, non-Google billing systems by advertising cheaper prices within their apps themselves.
  • Not enter contracts that require the Google Play Store to be the exclusive, pre-loaded app store on a device or home screen.
  • 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.
  • Submit compliance reports to an independent monitor who will ensure that Google is not continuing its anticompetitive conduct.

The settlement also requires Google to:

  • Allow the installation of third-party apps on Android phones from outside the Google Play Store for at least 7 years.
  • Maintain Android system support for third-party app stores, including allowing automatic updates, for 4 years.
  • Not require developers to launch their app catalogs on the Google Play Store at the same time as they launch on other app stores for at least 4 years.

The attorneys general sued Google in 2021, alleging that the internet giant unlawfully monopolized the Android app distribution and in-app payment processing market. Specifically, the states claimed Google signed anti-competitive 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.

This lawsuit was led by the attorneys general from North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, New York and California and joined by the attorneys general of all remaining states, the District of Columbia and the territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

A copy of the settlement is available online.


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