Friday, 03 Feb 2023

Justice department alleges Google tried to eliminate ad market rivals in lawsuit

Justice department alleges Google tried to eliminate ad market rivals in lawsuit


Justice department alleges Google tried to eliminate ad market rivals in lawsuit

The US justice department and eight states filed a lawsuit against Alphabet's Google on Tuesday over allegations that the company abused its dominance of the digital advertising business, according to a court document.

"Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies," the government said in its antitrust complaint.

The government alleges that Google's plan to assert dominance has been to "neutralize or eliminate" rivals through acquisitions and to force advertisers to use its products by making it difficult to use competitors' products. It's part of a new, if slow and halting, push by the US to rein in big tech companies that have enjoyed largely unbridled growth in the past decade and a half.

The antitrust suit was filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. The attorney general, Merrick Garland, said in a press conference on Tuesday that "for 15 years, Google has pursued a course of anti-competitive conduct" that has halted the rise of rival technologies and manipulated the mechanics of online ad auctions to force advertisers and publishers to use its tools.

In so doing, he added, "Google has engaged in exclusionary conduct" that has "severely weakened", if not destroyed, competition in the ad tech industry.

"First, Google controls the technology used by nearly every major website publisher to offer advertising space for sale. Second, Google controls the leading tool used by advertisers to buy that advertising space. And third, Google controls the largest ad exchange that matches publishers and advertisers together each time that ad space is sold," Garland said.

As a result, he added, "website creators earn less and advertisers pay more." And this means fewer publishers can offer their content without subscriptions, paywalls and other fees to make up for revenue.

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