US Department of Justice and 8 States File Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google
The US Department of Justice and eight states have filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing the tech giant of illegally monopolizing the digital advertising market. The complaint, filed Tuesday in a federal court in Virginia, alleges that Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies.
The suit seeks to “unwind Google’s monopolistic grip on the market” by ordering the divestiture of its ad tech, including the Google Ad Manager suite, Google AdX, and DFP (Google’s publisher ad server). It also calls for “any additional structural relief as needed to cure any anticompetitive harm.”
Google holds nearly 29% of the US digital advertising market according to research firm Insider Intelligence, with Facebook parent company Meta controlling nearly 20% and Amazon in third at more than 11%.
The Justice Department and the eight states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia – allege that Google has targeted “header bidding” – a technology that allows companies to bypass Google in order to bid on advertisement space on websites – and its own “Open Bidding” tool as a “Trojan Horse” to maintain its dominance.
The lawsuit marks the Justice Department’s first antitrust suit against a tech giant during the Biden administration. Since their dismantling of the Bell telecom system in the 1980s, the Justice Department has only rarely called for the splitting of a large company, such as this occasion.
A complaint was made, citing an internal communication from a Google advertising executive who used the following analogy to describe the company’s power in certain aspects of the ad-selling process: “The analogy would be if Goldman or Citibank owned the NYSE,” referring to the New York Stock Exchange.
Google is already under heavy antitrust scrutiny around the world and has been hit with numerous antitrust penalties over the past five years in the US and Europe. It has also paid hundreds of millions in data privacy settlements in the US. The DOJ’s lawsuit is the latest attempt to rein in the power of the tech giant.
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