New York (AFP)

The US authorities are stepping up the pressure on Google: a vast coalition of states on Thursday launched proceedings for anti-competitive practices against the internet giant, which is already facing two other complaints for similar reasons.

According to the latest procedure, Google uses the dominant position of its search engine, and the personal data it has already collected, to establish its grip on the internet, slow down the arrival of competitors and thus limit the choices of consumers and advertisers. and innovation.

The complaint filed Thursday by prosecutors in 38 US states and territories goes further than that of the Department of Justice (DoJ), which in October accused the group of maintaining an "illegal monopoly" on online research and advertising, provides a press release.

According to these Democratic and Republican prosecutors, Google "is increasing its efforts" to maintain its monopoly.

Founded in 1998 in Silicon Valley, the company has extended its influence over many aspects of our digital lives, on computers or smartphones.

Its services have become ubiquitous in the daily life of many Internet users, when they search the web, find their way with Google Maps or exchange emails with Gmail.

For Google, the complaint is unfounded.

The search engine "is designed to provide the most relevant results", including by offering direct links with traders or airlines for example, assures the group on its blog.

If Internet users are not happy, they have "many alternatives, including Amazon, Expedia, Tripadvisor and many more just a click away."

"It is important that large companies are vetted," but the changes demanded by the complaint "would deprive Americans of useful information and hamper companies' ability to connect directly with customers," Google says.

For the CCIA organization, which represents companies in the industry, changes made over the years by Google to its search engine "have improved the consumer experience. That's exactly what competition is for."

- Simultaneous assault -

For the attorneys general, not only has Google made exclusive deals to prevent potential competitors from developing their own search engine, but it is employing the same tactics on new tools used by consumers, smart speakers, televisions or cars. for example.

The group is also using its Search Ads 360 advertising search engine to consolidate its domination in the sector by preventing other competing engines from communicating with its own.

Google, further denounces the complaint, is preventing consumers from accessing information offered by other information providers on certain lucrative business segments, such as travel, home improvement and entertainment.

Several digital platforms, including Amazon, TripAdvisor and Yelp, regularly complain that Google promotes its own offers in search results.

Yelp welcomed the new complaint on Thursday, hoping to see it as "the beginning of a return to a more lively and open Internet".

Prosecutors are calling on the courts to restore a competitive market and reverse any advantage that Google may have gained through its anti-competitive practices, including by forcing the group to part with certain assets.

On Wednesday, ten states, led by Texas, also accused the group led by Sundar Pichai of anti-competitive practices in the management of advertisements, including entering into an agreement with Facebook.

For Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, the authorities' simultaneous assault on Google is "truly historic" and represents the largest coalition in an antitrust case since the one launched in the 1990s against Microsoft.

To win in court, however, authorities will have to show that the Californian group has harmed consumers - while its tools - email, maps, reservations services - are generally free.

Such an angle of attack is complicated, admitted several attorneys general Thursday during a video conference presenting the complaint.

"Politicians, in Congress in particular, should think about laws that go beyond anti-competitive practices," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

© 2020 AFP