Google to pay $700m to US consumers, states in Play store settlement
Google was accused of overcharging consumers
Alphabet's Google has agreed to pay $700m (R13bn) and to allow for greater competition in its Play app store, according to the terms of an antitrust settlement with US states and consumers disclosed on Monday in a San Francisco federal court.
Google will pay $630m into a settlement fund for consumers and $70m into a fund that will be used by states, the company said in a statement.
Google was accused of overcharging consumers through unlawful restrictions on the distribution of apps on Android devices and unnecessary fees for in-app transactions. It did not admit wrongdoing.
The settlement still requires a judge's final approval.
Lead plaintiff Utah and other states announced the settlement in September, but the terms were kept confidential ahead of Google's related trial with "Fortnite" maker Epic Games. A California federal jury last week agreed with Epic that parts of Google's app business were anticompetitive.
Wilson White, Google vice president for government affairs and public policy, in a statement said the settlement "builds on Android's choice and flexibility, maintains strong security protections, and retains Google’s ability to compete with other (operating system) makers, and invest in the Android ecosystem for users and developers."
The company said it was expanding the ability of app and game developers to provide consumers an alternative billing option for in-app purchases next to Play's billing system. Google said it had piloted "choice billing" in the US for more than a year.
As part of the settlement, Google said it would simplify users' ability to download apps directly from developers.
Epic next year will ask the judge hearing both cases, U.S. District Judge James Donato, to issue an order that could require Google to make changes to its Play store.
Google faces other lawsuits challenging its search and digital advertising practices. It has denied any wrongdoing in those cases.
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