The Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit, which a group of states joined, was the fifth against the company since 2020.
David McCabe reports on tech policy from Washington, and Nico Grant reports on Google from San Francisco.
The Justice Department and a group of states sued Google on Tuesday, accusing it of illegally abusing a monopoly over the technology that powers online advertising, in the agency’s first antitrust lawsuit against a tech giant under President Biden and an escalation in legal pressure on one of the world’s biggest internet companies.
The lawsuit said Google had “corrupted legitimate competition in the ad tech industry by engaging in a systematic campaign to seize control of the wide swath of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers and brokers, to facilitate digital advertising.” The lawsuit asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to force Google to sell its suite of ad technology products and stop the company from engaging in allegedly anticompetitive practices.
The Justice Department and Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
At the time, Google had $16.6 billion in annual revenue, primarily from its search engine business. By 2021, the company’s advertising technology division generated $31.7 billion in revenue, making it the second-largest business unit after the flagship search engine. Through the first three quarters of 2022, the unit posted $24.3 billion in sales.
Google has long faced accusations from online publishers that its control over the digital ads ecosystem unfairly sapped profits from the sites where the ads are displayed.
One group representing publishers, including The New York Times Company, has pushed Congress to allow the sites to negotiate the terms of ad deals collectively with Google and other online platforms. Normally, that kind of coordination would be illegal under antitrust laws. The publishers’ efforts have been unsuccessful so far.
Source: NYTimes Technology