DOJ Sues Google Again, Attacking Its Online Ad Dominance

The US Department of Justice and eight states on Tuesday Google sued over its online advertising businessalleging that the company abused its monopoly power and harmed advertisers and publishers.

The DOJ complaint (which you can read in its entirety) was filed in federal court in Virginia. It alleges that Google has “corrupted legitimate competition in the ad tech industry” by taking control of online advertising systems and “inserting itself into all aspects of the digital advertising market.” Google allegedly did this by eliminating competition through acquisitions and using its dominance to encourage advertisers to use its products over others. The complaint names only Google as a defendant, not any individual. It is also asking Google to sell part of its ad tech business.

The Justice Department also said that Google punishes websites that “dare to use competing tech products” and uses its dominance in ad technology to “drive more traffic to its ad tech products, where it extract inflated fees to line their own pockets. At the expense of advertisers and publishers it purportedly serves.”

The case is the latest example of government efforts to rein in big tech. The most financially successful companies in the world have the most power over our lives and businesses around the world.

Google denied the allegations.

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“Today’s lawsuit by the DOJ seeks to pick winners and losers in the highly competitive ad technology sector,” Google Ads chief Dan Taylor said in a blog post. Google argued that the Justice Department’s lawsuit largely duplicated a “baseless lawsuit” by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that was dismissed in federal court. The Justice Department’s case is flawed and “slows innovation, raises advertising fees and makes it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow,” Taylor said. Taylor said.

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Although there are some similarities to the Texas case, the Justice Department conducted its own multi-year investigation that showed Google “maintained multiple monopolies,” Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter said at a news conference Tuesday.

The Justice Department case is a rare case in which the department has sought to break up a large corporation. Other examples include its dealings with mainframe maker IBM in the 1970s, phone giant AT&T in 1982 and Windows maker Microsoft in 2000.

It comes as governments around the world seek to curb big tech. The United States Senate considered this last year American Innovation and Choice Online Act To counter the influence of Amazon, Apple and Google in digital markets. Last year, it was Google Fined for following users in France and agreed a $391.5 million settlement with state attorney general for location tracking practices.

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Kanter said Google’s dominance in digital advertising is on par with banking firms such as Goldman Sachs or Citibank, which owns the New York Stock Exchange. Google has engaged in this behavior for 15 years, raising advertising costs, reducing website revenue, stifling innovation and “marketing our public opinion,” he said. Kanter also claimed that Google’s behavior harmed the US government and military.

Among examples of alleged abuse, Kanter said Google:

  • Using the blocking settings to block the content creator in the Google system.
  • Advertising auctions are organized by giving yourself first-look and last-look advantages over the bidding process.
  • Block websites from using competing techniques and punish those who try.
  • Collection and use of competitor bid data.

Kanter also used information from Google documents and employees to argue for the company’s dominance:

  • A Google employee said the company’s ad exchange is an “autocratic arbiter.”
  • Senior executives said that switching ad servers is a “dream” for publishers that is “doing an act of God.”
  • A Google executive said, “Our goal should be all or nothing. Use Google’s ad exchange or don’t access our advertiser requests.”
  • A Google employee said the company “overcharges” advertisers by $3 billion a year, passing that money on to publishers to keep them with Google’s ad technology.
  • Google executives detail steps to “dry out” competitors.
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The Computer and Communications Industry Association, a technology lobby group, backed Google, despite some previous support for “reasonable” government intervention: “We find this trial and the underlying structural remedies it offers unfair. Digital services are “Dollars are competing fiercely for advertising. Screens of all sizes, and the complaint seems to ignore these dynamics as well as the macro trends of the global ad market,” the group said in a statement.

This is the second antitrust case against Google by the Justice Department but the first by the Biden administration. one October 2020 case Filed under the Trump administration, Google claimed to have locked out competitors by making deals with Apple and Samsung to be the default search engine on their devices.

Google is also facing it An antitrust case led by TexasWith 16 states and territories, the search giant claims to be working with Facebook to give the social network an advantage in online ad auctions. The Justice Department, under the Clayton Antitrust Act, is also authorized to sue if the federal government believes it has been harmed.

Last year, Google tried to avoid a Justice Department lawsuit Offer to distribute your ad tech businessThe Wall Street Journal reported.

CNET’s Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.

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