The U.S. Department of Justice Sues Google

Eight states joined the U.S. Justice Department to sue Google, accusing the company of harming competition given its dominance in online advertising. The suit calls for a breakup of the company and involves California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia. It’s the first time this administration will go after Big Tech with an antitrust case.

Critics of the company claim that Google enables advertisers to place ads and publishers to offer digital ad space, calling it a conflict of interest.

The Justice Department alleges that Google actively and illegally engaged in a campaign to thwart competition, purchased rivals through anticompetitive mergers, and bullied publishers and advertisers into using the company’s proprietary ad technology.

Attorney General Merrick Garland claims that Google even harmed the US government. Since 2019, the US government has spent $100 million buying online ads, the complaint said.

The suit calls for Google to spin off at least its online advertising exchange and its ad server for publishers. This is the federal government’s second antitrust complaint against Google since 2020 when the Trump administration sued over Google’s alleged anticompetitive harms in search and search advertising.

Google’s response: “DOJ is doubling down on a flawed argument that would slow innovation, raise advertising fees, and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.”

Similar antitrust investigations exist in the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Tuesday’s complaint marks an opening salvo against Big Tech by DOJ’s antitrust chief, Jonathan Kanter. Kanter told reporters that Google abused “longstanding monopolies in digital advertising technologies” to give itself an advantage. “Google’s own documents estimate that it keeps at least 30 cents of each advertising dollar that flows through Google’s advertising tools,” Kanter said, adding that in some situations, the figure may be far higher.

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