Google’s critics have stated for years that it should be treated as a public utility. On Tuesday, Ohio’s attorney general filed a lawsuit asking a judge to rule that the search company is one.
The case adds to the legal heartaches confronting Alphabet Inc. subsidiary, which also faces antitrust lawsuits from the Justice Department and a separate syndicate of states led by Colorado and Texas. The company is contending with cases in countries around the globe where its dominance as a search provider has fueled a push by regulators to confine its power.
Amid the array of court challenges, Ohio stated that it is the first state in the country to bring a lawsuit seeking a court declaration that Google is a common carrier subject under the state law to the government regulation. The lawsuit, which doesn’t seek monetary damages, states that Google has a duty to provide the same rights for advertisements and product placement for competitors as it provides for its own services.
A Google spokesman stated that the remedies sought in the Ohio lawsuit would worsen the company’s search results and impair businesses’ ability to connect directly with clients. “Ohioans simply don’t want the government to run Google such as a gas or electric company,” a spokesperson said. “This lawsuit has no basis in fact or law and we’ll defend ourselves against it in court.”