The Justice Department and eight state attorneys general filed a lawsuit in federal court against Google Tuesday for what they said is the company’s monopoly in technology used in digital advertising.
This is separate from (but similar to) another suit the company faces from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that began in 2020 over its dominance in search, which is currently in a federal court in New York, per Bloomberg.
“In pursuit of outsized profits, Google has caused great harm to online publishers and advertisers and American consumers. This lawsuit marks an important milestone in the Department’s efforts to hold big technology companies accountable for violations of the antitrust laws,” said Deputy Attorney General at the DOJ Lisa O. Monaco, in a press release.
Tuesday’s complaint accuses Google of restraining competition in the digital advertising technology industry and creating an illegal monopoly.
Google has tried to eliminate opponents via acquisition and forced consumers to use its products because of its presence in digital advertising, the suit says.
The suit seeks to force Google to sell off its digital ads technology sector, as well as seeks damages for overcharging government agencies.
Google and other large tech companies have faced an increase in antitrust interest worldwide — a unique area of bipartisan agreement in the U.S., as POLITICO noted. The company, for example, faced a lawsuit over its app store, for which it agreed to pay $90 million.
This specific suit is concerned with the so-called “ad tech stack,” which is Google’s suite of tools customers use in online advertising.
According to the complaint, Google controls the technology used to offer and buy digital advertising spots as well as the system that connects digital ad space with various advertisers when ads are sold online.
This would be like, as one Google employee quoted in the suit says, “if Goldman or Citibank owned the NYSE.”
By name, these tools are things like Google Ads and Google Ad Manager, according to Insider Intelligence. All of these tools are also purposefully, closely integrated to make it difficult not to buy into the whole ecosystem — “a great defense against competition,” the analysis added.