A coalition of eight states, including Rhode Island and Connecticut, has joined a US Department of Justice lawsuit challenging Google’s hold on the online advertising industry.
In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia, plaintiffs argue that “Google has thwarted competition in this business sector for the past 15 years” by systematically seizing control of key ad-tech industry tools including the largest advertising attained exchanges where digital ads are bought and sold. The company has also been accused of imposing restrictions that have unfairly undermined rivals’ ability to compete.
“Google has market power over the interlocking technologies that deliver online advertising. It has abused its dominance to manipulate advertising auctions and stock markets, coerce advertisers into using its services and inflate its own profits at the expense of American companies in violation of antitrust laws,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. “Connecticut has joined the US Department of Justice and this bipartisan coalition of states to restore free and fair competition to this broken marketplace.”
In a press release, Tong said Google has “inserted itself into virtually every aspect of the digital advertising market” and used its market power to drive more business to its own ad tech products. The lawsuit argues that this enables Google to charge higher fees for itself at the expense of the advertisers and publishers it serves, as well as costs passed on to consumers.
The complaint alleges that Google’s anti-competitive behavior has prevented meaningful competition, stifled innovation in the digital advertising industry, increased costs and harmed consumers.
In addition to Rhode Island and Connecticut, the states of Virginia, California, Colorado, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee have also joined the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is the latest antitrust lawsuit targeting Google’s monopoly position in the technology industry. Rhode Island and Connecticut is also part of a bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general in a pending court case in federal court in Washington, DC alleging that Google illegally exercises monopoly power in the online search and search advertising markets.
The states are also part of a cross-state challenge to Google’s monopoly on payments for app purchases on the Android mobile operating system. This case, pending in federal court in San Francisco, seeks relief for consumers because Google’s monopoly-imposed fee structure for in-app purchases drives up costs for consumers and unfairly hurts app developers.
The search engine antitrust case is scheduled to go to court later this September. The lawsuit against app payments is scheduled to be heard in November.