The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is preparing yet another anti-trust lawsuit against the high-tech titan Google. This time the case over the company’s overwhelming dominance in the online advertisement business, reports Bloomberg.
This suit comes in addition to another DOJ anti-trust suit already filed against Google. In 2020 the DOJ sued the company over its dominance in the web search market, alleging efforts to suppress competition.
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Three people familiar with the conversations who asked not to be named discussing an ongoing investigation told Bloomberg that Lawyers with the DOJ’s antitrust division are questioning publishers in another round of interviews to refresh facts and glean additional details for the complaint.
Anyone who has a website and either uses Google for selling advertising space – meaning pretty much all websites – or who uses Google’s Ad Sense system of bidding on keywords for paid ads that come up at the top of regular Google searches – again, pretty much all websites that need to generate traffic – knows exactly what the issue is here. Google has a de facto monopoly on such advertising services.
In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google offered to make concessions in order to fend off just such a potential U.S. antitrust lawsuit. The concessions offered included a proposal to spin off parts of its business that auctions and places ads on websites and apps into a separate company under Alphabet.
“Our advertising technologies help websites and apps fund their content, and enable small businesses to reach customers around the world,” said Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels told Bloomberg. “The enormous competition in online advertising has made online ads more relevant, reduced ad tech fees, and expanded options for publishers and advertisers.”
Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter avoided mentioning Google directly when he was asked about the issue at a recent conference. However, speaking in general terms, he said, “We have to bring cases to court. We don’t have the kind of ground rules that existed when antitrust was enforced with regularity.
“If we don’t use those muscles (the DOJ’s authority), they will start to weaken.”