Home world Google to pay $700 mn to US consumers, states in antitrust settlement

Google to pay $700 mn to US consumers, states in antitrust settlement

Google to pay $700 mn to US consumers, states in antitrust settlement
Published December 19, 2023 Updated December 19, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

SAN FRANCISCO — Google parent Alphabet has agreed to pay US$700 million (S$930 million) as part of an antitrust settlement made public on Monday (Dec 18), with the funds going to United States (US) customers of its Android app store and state governments. 

As part of the settlement, the company will make changes to its Google Play app store to reduce competition barriers for developers, including the ability for apps to bill users directly.

Dozens of US states joined forces in a lawsuit filed in July 2021 that accused Google of abusing its power regarding consumer access to apps on mobile devices running its Android operating system.

The lawsuit backed by 37 attorneys general accused Google of using anti-competitive tactics to discourage Android apps from being distributed at shops other than its Play store, where its payment system collects commissions on transactions.

A settlement was announced in September, but the deal’s details were not disclosed.

“Google will pay US$630 million into a settlement fund to be distributed for the benefit of consumers according to a Court-approved plan and US$70 million into a fund that will be used by the states,” Alphabet said in a statement Monday.

The settlement fund will be used to distribute money to eligible consumers across the United States. 

Eligible consumers who made a purchase on the Play store between August 16, 2016 and September 30, 2023 will receive a minimum of US$2, according to the court settlement. 

Apps will also now be able to charge Android users directly for in-app purchases.

“App and game developers will be able to implement an alternative billing option alongside Google Play’s billing system for their US users who can then choose which option to use when making in-app purchases,” the statement read.  

In addition to the US states who filed the case, all 50 States, the District of Columbia and two territories have joined the settlement.

Last week, Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, won a major US court battle against Google when a jury decided that the search engine giant wields illegal monopoly power through its Android app store.

Alphabet said Monday that they “are challenging that verdict and our case with Epic is far from over.”

Epic sued Google and Apple in 2020, accusing the tech titans of abusing control of their respective shops selling apps and other digital content on mobile devices.AFP