21 December 2023- Attorney General Michelle Henry joins 52 other Attorneys General in a $700 million settlement agreement with Google regarding a lawsuit over the tech company’s anticompetitive practices in its Google Play Store.
Pennsylvania will receive an estimated $20.58 million for consumers who made purchases on the Google Play Store between August 2016 and September 2023. The Office of Attorney General will receive an additional $10,000 in litigation fees and costs.
According to the lawsuit, Google (via the Play Store) unlawfully monopolized the market for app distribution and in-app payment processing on Android devices. Google prevented other app stores from being preloaded on Android devices and created barriers to deter consumers from directly downloading apps without using the Play Store.
“Google used unlawful practices to quash competitors and prime positioned its app store and payment processing for consumers, many of whom were not even aware of other options,” Attorney General Henry said. “This settlement holds this mega company accountable for practices that inflated prices and stifled competition to the detriment of consumers.”
Consumers eligible for restitution do not have to submit claims; they will receive automatic payments through PayPal or Venmo, or they can elect to receive a check or ACH transfer. Google will provide information for eligible consumers to a claims administrator retained by the state Attorneys General. The administrator will then provide notice directly via email and through notice published in digital media.
The settlement also requires Google to reform its business practices as follows:
- Give all developers the ability to allow users to pay through in-app billing systems other than Google Play Billing for at least five years.
- Allow developers to offer cheaper prices for their apps and in-app products for consumers who use alternative, non-Google billing systems for at least five years.
- Permit developers to steer consumers toward alternative, non-Google billing systems by advertising cheaper prices within their apps themselves for at least five years.
- Refrain from entering contracts that require the Play Store to be the exclusive, pre-loaded app store on a device or home screen for at least five years.
- Allow the installation of third-party apps on Android phones from outside the Google Play Store for at least seven years.
- 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 for at least 5 years.
- Maintain Android system support for third-party app stores, including allowing automatic updates, for four years.
- Refrain from 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.
- Submit compliance reports to an independent monitor who will ensure that Google is not continuing its anticompetitive conduct for at least 5 years.
This lawsuit was led by the Attorneys General from North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, New York, and California, and joined by Attorney General Henry and all remaining states, the District of Columbia and the territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.