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European Union files new antitrust lawsuit against Google over digital ad practices

Google HQ
Posted at 8:31 AM, Jun 22, 2021

LONDON — European Union regulators have launched a fresh antitrust investigation of Google, this time over whether the company is stifling competition in digital advertising technology.

The EU’s executive Commission said Tuesday that it has opened a formal investigation into whether Google violated the bloc’s competition rules by favoring its own online display advertising technology services at the expense of rival publishers, advertisers and advertising technology services.

“Google collects data to be used for targeted advertising purposes, it sells advertising space and also acts as an online advertising intermediary. So Google is present at almost all levels of the supply chain for online display advertising," European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. "We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack.”

The commission said it’s looking in particular at whether Google is restricting access by third parties to user data for ad purposes on website and apps.

"Thousands of European businesses use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every single day," a Google spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC. "They choose them because they’re competitive and effective. We will continue to engage constructively with the European Commission to answer their questions and demonstrate the benefits of our products to European businesses and consumers.”

The antitrust allegations are just the latest filed against Google. In late 2020, the Justice Department filed an antitrust suit against the company, alleging behavior with its search engine that diminished competition. Then, in December, 30 states filed their own lawsuit alleging that the tech giant has an illegal monopoly over the online search market that hurts consumers and advertisers.