(VitalNews.org) – The US government put antitrust laws in place during the late 1800s to ensure healthy competition in the marketplace. Without these parameters, a business could essentially become monopolistic, making it nearly impossible for other companies to compete. That scenario could give those entities too much power, which can ultimately hurt consumers. On January 24, the Department of Justice (DOJ), with eight additional states, filed a civil lawsuit against Google, claiming the tech giant violated antitrust laws, specifically parts of the Sherman Act.
Details of the Case
Sections one and two of the act deal with monopolies and making contracts that restrain other commerce. The DOJ and the states accuse Google of dominating digital advertising technologies (ad tech stack) to the detriment of competitors. They claim the entity used illegal conduct to exclude other advertisers or lessen their power, eventually pushing them out of the space — all in the name of profit. Attorney General Merrick Garland said it’s the department’s job to protect customers, ensure healthy competition in the marketplace, and help to foster an environment where every business has the opportunity to compete.
According to the complaint, Google’s alleged exclusionary practices over the past 15 years have led to increased advertising costs and less profit for publishers and content creators. The effect has reportedly hampered innovation and dulled the free exchange of ideas. The plaintiffs accuse the tech giant of buying out the competition, forcing the use of its own advertising tools, and stopping other technologies from growing. As a result, the DOJ and states claim Google takes over 30% of the overall advertising dollars in the marketplace. CBS News reported that a research firm looked at the profit share of other companies that have digital advertising products. It found Meta captures a relatively close second in the market at almost 20%, with Amazon pulling in only 11%.
This isn’t the first time Google has had to defend itself from the DOJ. According to reports, the department has sued the company four other times for antitrust violations since 2020.
On the day of the filing, Google released a statement saying the DOJ’s lawsuit was just another attempt to push the same argument others have tried in the past. Vice President Dan Taylor pointed to a previous suit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which a district court dismissed as “not plausible” in September 2022, as evidence that the current legal move is doomed.
Google claims US regulators approved the very acquisitions the DOJ is now complaining about in an attempt to punish the tech giant for its advertising work over the last 15 years. The company argues that the government should not be able to pick who succeeds and fails in the marketplace. Google also detailed how advertising businesses were still alive and well despite its own success.
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