Google may soon be facing its second antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice. According to Bloomberg, the DOJ is gearing up to sue the tech giant as soon as September after a year of looking into whether it’s been using its dominant position to illegally control the digital ad market. The Justice Department’s lawyers have reportedly been conducting another round of interviews to glean additional information that could help make their case stronger. These new interviews are expected to build on previous ones conducted much earlier on in the investigation.
The Justice Department first filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company back in 2020, accusing it of having an unfair monopoly over search and search-related advertising. For that particular case, the agency argued that forcing Android phone manufacturers to set Google as the default search engine prevents rivals from gaining traction and ensures that the company will earn an enormous amount of money from search-related advertising.
In the same year, Texas filed a multi-state lawsuit against Google, with the state’s Attorney General accusing the company of using its “monopolistic power to control” ad pricing. The company’s ad practices are under scrutiny not just in the US but in other parts of the world: The European Commission also opened a probe to look into whether Google limits rival services’ access to user data for ad purposes last year. As a concession to the EU’s concerns, Reuters reported in June that Google may let rival ad platforms run ads on YouTube.
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While the DOJ has yet to officially file its case, Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels defended the company’s ad business in a statement to Bloomberg, which says: “Our advertising technologies help websites and apps fund their content, and enable small businesses to reach customers around the world. The enormous competition in online advertising has made online ads more relevant, reduced ad tech fees, and expanded options for publishers and advertisers.”