DOJ Files Second Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google – NBC Los Angeles

  • The US Department of Justice filed its second antitrust lawsuit against Google in just over two years, this time targeting its advertising business.
  • It is the first Google lawsuit filed under the Biden administration.
  • It comes shortly after reports that the head of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Jonathan Kanter, had been cleared to work on Google matters.

The US Department of Justice on Tuesday filed its second antitrust lawsuit against Google in just over two years. It’s the latest sign that the US government is not backing down on cases against tech companies, even in light of a mixed track record in the courts on antitrust lawsuits.

This lawsuit, focused on Google’s online advertising business and seeking to have Google divest parts of the business, is the first to be filed against the company under the Biden administration. The Department’s previous lawsuit, filed in October 2020 under the Trump administration, accused Google of using its alleged monopoly power to eliminate competition from Internet search through opt-out agreements. That case is expected to go to trial in September.

Google is also facing three other antitrust lawsuits from large groups of state attorneys general, including one centering on its 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 DOJ in the lawsuit.

Google’s advertising business has drawn criticism because the platform operates on multiple sides of the market — buying, selling, and trading 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 competitors, including Facebook’s Meta.

The progressive head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, Jonathan Kanter, was recently cleared to work on Google-related matters, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. Bloomberg had previously reported that Kanter was not allowed to work on company-related matters while the department considered Google’s request to review his grounds for recusal. Before his time in government, Kanter represented some of Google’s rivals and critics, including Yelp and News Corp.

A Google spokesperson 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 lawsuits, as is Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision.

Google and other technology companies have also faced increasing scrutiny from abroad, particularly in Europe, where Google has also fought multiple antitrust cases and new regulations threaten major changes to technology business models.

This story is unfolding. Please check back for updates.

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