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Ohio AG suit seeks declaration of Google as public utility

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a court to declare Google a public utility and to regulate it as one.

The Republican official filed the lawsuit alleging that Google has overreached its dominance in a way that is discriminatory and anti-competitive to Ohio residents.

“When you own the railroad or the electric company or the cellphone tower, you have to treat everyone the same and give everybody access,” Yost said in a statement.

He added that Google’s use of its internet search steers Ohioans to the company’s own products.

Yost said Ohio is the first state in the country to seek a court declaration that Google is a public utility that should be subject to government regulation.

While the lawsuit is not seeking monetary damages, it is asking the court to require Google “to offer sources or competitors rights equal to its own,” meaning the company should not prioritize the placement of Google-owned products, services and websites on its search results.

The complaint is just the latest in a series of legal battles the tech giant is facing both in the U.S. and abroad, including a multi-state antitrust investigation into Google’s business practices, which Yost also joined in December.

The Associated Press