10 states launch antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging it made deals with Facebook to rig online ad market
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) announced Wednesday that he’s spearheading a 10-state lawsuit against Google, claiming that the foremost search engine was illegally quashing competitors and running an online advertising monopoly, in violation of federal antitrust laws. Additionally, the suit claims that online giant had reached an improper auction-rigging deal with Facebook to maintain its dominance, according to the lawsuit.
Joining the Lone Star State in the case are the attorneys general from the states of Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah. The states are asking the court for “structural, behavioral, and monetary relief” to stop Google from abusing monopoly power, according to the suit.
This comes a week after 46 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam, filed a massive antitrust lawsuit against Facebook for monopolistic practices coupled with a separate antitrust lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the same day.
The complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Texas, alleges that the social media giant in 2017 rose as a major new competitor to Google’s established grip on the online advertising market. In response to this business threat, the complaint says, Google initiated a deal with Facebook that allowed the search behemoth to preserve its powerful position in a crucial area of the online advertising market, while guaranteeing Facebook would receive a certain share of the ad auctions that Google runs.
“Within a few short years of executing this unlawful tactic,” the suit reads, “Google successfully monopolized the publisher ad server market and grew its ad exchange to number one, despite having entered those two markets much later than the competition.”
“This internet Goliath used its power to manipulate the market, destroy competition, and harm YOU, the consumer,” Paxton’s office posted on Twitter Wednesday.
In a video attached to the tweet, Paxton said that “Google effectively eliminated its competition and crowned itself the head of online advertising.”
In a tweet below the video, the office added to its statement that “Google’s monopolization of the display-advertising industry stifle innovation, limit consumer choice and reduce competition. Texas and its coalition of allied states bring this action to lift the veil on #Google’s secret practices.”
Following the announcement of the suit, Google denied that it had engaged in such behavior.
“Attorney General Paxton’s ad tech claims are meritless, yet he’s gone ahead in spite of all the facts. We’ve invested in state-of-the-art ad tech services that help businesses and benefit consumers,” a Google spokesperson told both The Hill and The Wall Street Journal. “We will strongly defend ourselves from his baseless claims in court.”
Back in October, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust case against Google, accusing the technology giant of illegally maintaining a monopoly on online searches and search advertising.
A different batch of state attorneys general is also expected to file a separate lawsuit against Google as soon as this week, The Hill and The Wall Street Journal report, with the focus reportedly on its search business.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.