Antitrust attorney Jonathan Kanter testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Vin McNamee | Getty Images
The US Department of Justice on Tuesday filed a second antitrust lawsuit against Google a little over two years. It’s the latest sign that the U.S. government isn’t giving up on cases against tech firms, even in light of its mixed antitrust court record.
This lawsuit focused on Google The online advertising business, and seeks to force Google to divest part of the business, is the first against the company filed under the leadership of the Biden administration. The Department’s earlier lawsuit, filed in October 2020 under the Trump administration, accused Google of using its alleged monopoly power to stifle competition in Internet search through exclusion agreements. The case is expected to be heard in September.
Google also faces three other antitrust lawsuits from large groups of state attorneys general, including one focused on the advertising business led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Virginia joined the Justice Department in the latest lawsuit.
Google’s ad business draws critics because the platform operates on different sides of the market — buying, selling and exchanging ads — giving it unique insight into the process and potential leverage. The company has long denied that it dominates the online advertising market, pointing to the market share of rivals including Facebook Meta.
In their lawsuit, the Justice Department and the states allege that Google sought to control all sides of the market, realizing that it could become the “prime place for all advertising.”
“Google will no longer have to compete on merit; he can simply set the rules of the game to exclude opponents,” they argue.
They also allege that Google acquired other companies, including the publisher’s 2008 acquisition of ad server DoubleClick and the “nascent ad exchange” that became Google AdX, to increase its market power and “lay the groundwork for Google’s later takedowns around the world “. the ad tech industry.”
“Essentially, Google was robbing Peter (advertisers) to pay Paul (publishers), all the while collecting huge transaction fees for its privileged position in the middle,” the lawsuits allege. “Instead of helping fund the publication of websites, Google has been siphoning off advertising dollars for itself by imposing ultra-competitive fees on its platforms. A rival publisher’s ad server couldn’t compete with Google’s inflated ad prices, especially without access to Google’s own advertiser. demand from Google Ads”.
The progressive head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, Jonathan Kanter, was recently cleared to work on matters related to Google, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. Bloomberg previously reported that Canter was barred from working on issues related to the company while the department considered Google’s request to review the grounds for the recusal. Prior to his time in government, Kanter represented some of Google’s competitors and critics, including Yelp and News Corp.
A Google spokesman said in a statement last year that Kanter’s past work and statements “raise serious concerns about his ability to be impartial.”
Google is far from the only tech giant that has come under scrutiny from the federal government. At the Federal Trade Commission, Meta is also the subject of two antitrust suits, as is Microsoft the proposed acquisition Activision.
Google and other tech companies have also faced increasing scrutiny from abroad, particularly in Europe, where Google has also battled numerous antitrust cases and new rules threaten major changes to tech business models.
Google did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.
This story is evolving. Check for updates.
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