US investigating Google over illegal advertising techniques and price manipulation

The Justice Department has not disclosed the specific remedies it would seek from the court if it wins the case against Google. It’s conceivable that they may request restrictions on Google, prohibiting the company from entering exclusive distribution agreements to enhance the visibility of other search engines on consumer devices.

Buisinessman holding google logo

The US Justice Department has accused Google of using illegal methods to push up ad prices in a multibillion-dollar industry it already dominates. The accusations were made during an antitrust trial, where a lawyer for the Justice Department questioned a Google executive about the techniques used by the company to manipulate online ad auctions.

The accusations include manipulating online auctions, using illegal methods to push up ad prices, and abusing its search dominance. The Justice Department claims that Google built its monopoly by buying up crucial tools that delivered ads to publishers, resulting in advertisers paying more for space on the internet and publishers making less money as Google took its cut. The government also alleges that Google’s anticompetitive practices have had harmful effects on competition and consumers, reducing the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete, and discipline Google’s behaviour.

The lawsuit asks the court to force Google to sell much of its suite of ad technology products, which include software for buying and selling ads, a marketplace to complete the transactions, and a service for showcasing the ads across the internet.

Why does it matter?

This is not the first time Google has faced antitrust lawsuits in the US. In 2020, a group of eleven states led by Texas filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google involving advertising technology, while the Justice Department and another group of states sued Google over claims that it abused its dominance over online search. In 2021, four more states joined this suit, adding the claim that Google had collaborated with Facebook in placing ads and that the company’s app store practices were against competition regulation.

The trial is the first major tech antitrust case of its kind in decades and could have significant implications for the future of the web as Big Tech watches over the result. Antitrust legislation in the US was initially crafted over a century ago, and this trial will determine its applicability in regulating the rapidly evolving tech sector.