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U.S. Department of Justice files lawsuit alleging Google is anticompetive

The Justice Department and several states sued Google on Tuesday, alleging that its dominance in digital advertising harms competition.

Search giant's dominance in digital advertising is bad for competition, lawsuit claims

The Google logo on the company's homepage, arranged on an iPhone and a desktop computer in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Google threatened to disable its search engine in Australia if it’s forced to pay local publishers for news, a dramatic escalation of a months-long standoff with the government. Photographer: David Gray/Bloomberg
Google's dominance in digital advertising is bad for competition, a new government lawsuit alleges. (David Gray/Bloomberg)

The Justice Department and several states sued Google on Tuesday, alleging that its dominance in digital advertising harms competition.

The government alleges that Google's plan to assert dominance has been to "neutralize or eliminate" rivals through acquisitions and to force advertisers to use its products by making it difficult to use competitors' products.

The antitrust suit was filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Attorney General Merrick Garland was expected to discuss it at a news conference later Tuesday.

The DOJ's suit accuses Google of unlawfully monopolizing the way ads are served online by excluding competitors. This includes its 2008 acquisition of DoubleClick, a dominant ad server, and subsequent rollout of technology that locks in the split-second bidding process for ads that get served on web pages.

Representatives for Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company, did not immediately respond to a message for comment.

Dina Srinivasan, a Yale University fellow and adtech expert, said the lawsuit is "huge" because it aligns the entire nation — state and federal governments — in a bipartisan legal offensive against Google.

This is the latest legal action taken against Google by either the Justice Department or local state governments. In October 2020, for instance, the Trump administration and eleven state attorneys general sued Google for violating antitrust laws, alleging anticompetitive practices in the search and search advertising markets.

The lawsuit in essence aligns the Biden administration and new states with the 35 states and District of Colombia that sued Google in December 2020 over the exact same issues.

The states taking part in the suit include California, Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee.

 

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