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The U.S. Department of Justice has filed another antitrust lawsuit against Google, this time aimed at the company's alleged hold over advertising technologies.
Google is being accused of "monopolizing multiple digital advertising technology products," violating antitrust law, according to a DOJ statement. The lawsuit was filed in conjunction with the state attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia.
This is the second antitrust lawsuit the government has filed against Google. In 2020, the DOJ, along with 11 state attorneys general, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google alleging the company maintained unlawful monopolies through anti-competitive means in the search and search advertising markets. That case is scheduled to go to trial later this year.
The DOJ's new lawsuit maintains that Google's monopoly over the "ad tech stack" relied on by website publishers to sell ads and by advertisers to buy those ads led the company to neutralize potential ad tech competitors through acquisitions. Google's actions thwarted website publishers and online advertisers from using competing products.
"Today's complaint alleges that Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful conduct to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the statement.
DOJ lawsuit focuses on past acquisitions, anti-competitive conduct
The DOJ's lengthy complaint sets up what will likely be a "long, drawn-out battle," said Anthony Badaracco, partner at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney LLP, in a statement.
The complaint centers on Google's 2007 acquisition of ad tech firm DoubleClick, which provided Google with a publisher ad server that had a 60% market share at the time, according to the lawsuit. The Federal Trade Commission cleared the acquisition, Badaracco said.
Anthony BadaraccoPartner, Dorsey & Whitney LLP
The lawsuit claims Google pursued further acquisitions to lock in its position as the "dominant intermediary between advertisers and publishers," such as the 2009 purchase of AdMob, a technology system that allowed mobile app publishers to sell ads.
While much of the complaint is focused on Google's previous acquisitions, Badaracco said it also highlights other issues.
"The complaint also alleges that lots of Google's conduct over the last decade in the online ad technology markets -- including self-preferencing, changes made to algorithms, new policies, pricing and more -- is anti-competitive and helped Google to build and maintain a monopoly," he said.
Sumit Sharma, senior researcher for tech competition at Consumer Reports, applauded the DOJ's lawsuit.
"For too long, Google has faced limited competition and exploited its power without being held accountable," Sharma said in a statement. "And a lot of people have been harmed along the way ... fewer innovative services are introduced, and consumers pay higher prices for products and services that use online advertising and have less control over how their data are used."
Makenzie Holland is a news writer covering big tech and federal regulation. Prior to joining TechTarget Editorial, she was a general reporter for the Wilmington StarNews and a crime and education reporter at the Wabash Plain Dealer.