The US Department of Justice and eight US states filed a complaint against Google on Tuesday, January 24, for its “monopoly” practiced in the online advertising market, according to a court document. The internet search giant is already facing other competition lawsuits.
“Google has used anti-competitive, exclusionary and unlawful methods to eliminate, or drastically reduce, any threat to its dominance over the technologies used for digital advertising”accuses the American authority, in particular in “systematically taking control of a wide variety of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers and other market players”, who are employed “virtually by all websites” .
The antitrust complaint was filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. The states joining the lawsuit launched by the department are California, Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee. US Attorney General Merrick Garland is expected to discuss the situation at a press conference later in the day on Tuesday.
Other prosecutions and a conviction in France
Representatives of Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, have not yet commented.
This is the latest legal action taken against Google by the US Department of Justice or state governments. In October 2020, the Trump administration and eleven state attorneys general sued Google for antitrust violations, for example, alleging anticompetitive practices in the search and search engine advertising markets.
The lawsuit essentially aligns the Joe Biden administration and the new states with the thirty-five states and the District of Columbia that sued Google in December 2020 for the same reasons.
Google was already sentenced in France in June 2021 for abusing its dominant position in advertising. Found guilty, the digital giant was fined 220 million euros and promised to change its practices.
This was a world first in the complex auction market in display advertising – the squares, banners and skins that accompany website content. The case was also unprecedented because Google had chosen a negotiated settlement procedure with the competition authority, rather than contesting the findings.