US ready to sue Google for ‘monopolising’ online ads: Report

Washington May 16: The US government is reportedly preparing to sue Google for its anti-market ad practices where it allegedly monopolized online ads.

The Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general are likely to file antitrust lawsuits against Alphabet-owned Google, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Friday that cited people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department is moving toward bringing a case as soon as this summer.

“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican is likely to file a case, probably in the fall,” according to the report.

On a call with the media, Paxton said the primary focus of the investigation was the broad reach of Google’s online advertising network.

“We think Google has 7,000 data points on just about every human being alive. They control the buy-side (of online advertising), the sell-side and the market which we are concerned gives them way too much power,” Paxton was quoted as saying.

In a statement to The Verge, Google said: “We continue to engage with the ongoing investigations led by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Paxton and we don’t have any updates or comments on speculation”.

Google has turned over more than 100,000 documents to investigators as part of the ongoing anti-trust probe.

The case, if filed, would be the first major US antitrust action against a tech giant since the Bill Clinton administration’s pursuit of Microsoft in the 1990s.

In September last year, Attorneys General of 50 US states, led by Texas, announced a probe into Google’s anti-trust practices, focusing on whether the tech giant is overly dominant in the online advertising market and in internet searches.

“This is a company that dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet, as they dominate the buyer, seller and auction side,” said Paxton.

“If advertising costs are higher, advertisers pay more, and ultimately that’s passed on to consumers” he added.

The European Union’s anti-trust regulators last year fined Google 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for abusing its dominance in the online search market by blocking rivals.

In 2013, Google said it would change some practices after it agreed to a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission. The FTC had been concerned that some of Google’s business practices could stifle competition.

In 2010, the company received an anti-trust complaint from the European Commission regarding ranking of shopping search results and ads, which resulted in Google being fined $2.7 billion in 2017.

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