Google will pay a combined $700 million to millions of US consumers and allow more competition in its Play app store as part of an antitrust settlement with US states and consumers that was filed in federal court Monday.
Under the terms of the settlement, Google will shell out $630 million to a fund dedicated to roughly 102 million consumers across the country, and an extra $70 million to a state-managed fund, intended to compensate consumers for similar claims.
According to court filings, at least 70% of consumers who are eligible for compensation, or about 71 million people, will automatically receive payments from the settlement, without having to file a claim. Consumers eligible for a payment will receive a payment of at least $2 each, with the exact amount varying based on the total amount they spent in the Google Play Store in that period.
An eligible consumer, as defined in the settlement, is a person who, at the time of making an in-app purchase through Google Play or purchasing an app from Google Play between August 2016 and September 2023, had a legal address listed in their Google payments profile that’s located in any of the U.S. states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico.
The settlement also mandates that Google makes several changes relating to the app store practices for a certain period of time.
For instance, as part of the agreement, Google will extend a pilot program for 5 years that allows users to choose between using its proprietary billing system or a third-party payment method when making in-app purchases.
Additionally, app developers, for several years, will have the freedom to inform users about alternative billing options, promotions, the tech giant’s commission rates, and methods to circumvent Google’s charges.
Finally, Google is required to make it easier for users to install applications from outside the Google Play store, a process known as sideloading. For Google, this involves altering the warning screens that it currently shows to users when they attempt to sideload apps on Android devices.
“This settlement builds on Android’s choice and flexibility, maintains strong security protections, and retains Google’s ability to compete with other OS makers, and invest in the Android ecosystem for users and developers. We’re pleased to resolve our case with the states and move forward on a settlement,” said Wilson White, Google’s Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy.
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