Justice Department is suing Google to shut down its advertising business
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google targeting the company’s advertising business.
Tuesday’s lawsuit marks the second time in as many years that the Justice Department has sued the tech giant, a signal from the Biden administration that Big Tech will be challenged in court.
The lawsuit focuses on Google’s online advertising business and aims to force the company to divest parts of it. The earlier October 2020 filing under the Trump administration accused the company of using its alleged monopoly power to eliminate competition for internet search through exclusionary agreements. That case is expected to go to trial in September.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia joined the Justice Department in Tuesday’s lawsuit.
Google has long battled accusations that it has too much control over the online advertising market, and points to Meta’s Facebook as its main competitor. But the company operates on all sides of the advertising market — buying, selling, and operating an ad exchange — giving it insight into the process and influence on negotiations.
The lawsuit stated that Google wanted to “become the be-all and end-all for all ad serving” and “no longer have to compete on the merits; it could just set the rules of the game to shut out rivals.”
Google’s advertising practices mean more profit for the company, which would not be the case in a competitive market, the DOJ argues.
“Website builders earn less and advertisers pay more than in a market where unrestrained competitive pressures could discipline prices and lead to more innovative ad tech tools that would ultimately result in higher quality and lower cost transactions for market participants,” it said said in the lawsuit.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of federal government crackdowns on Big Tech. The Federal Trade Commission and Meta have had a series of court battles over the past year, and the FTC and DOJ announced early last year that they intend to tighten merger guidelines for tech companies.
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*Initial publication: January 24, 2023 5:02 pm CST
Jacob Seitz is a freelance journalist originally from Columbus, Ohio, interested in the intersection of culture and politics.
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