WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has accelerated an investigation into Google’s digital advertising practices and may file an antitrust lawsuit against the internet giant before the end of the year, two people with knowledge of the matter said. government thought said on Wednesday.
The investigation focuses on Google’s strength in the digital advertising market, examining how the company uses its dominance in auctions and ad technology to maintain its hold on power. who is not authorized to speak publicly said. In recent weeks, the Justice Department has called more third parties as witnesses and requested documents and interviews, a sign that it has picked up the pace of the investigation, the people said. .
The ministry declined to comment. Google said Wednesday that there is “huge competition in advertising tools, which has made online advertising more relevant, reduced fees and expanded options for publishers and advertisers.” .”
Bloomberg previously reported on the potential lawsuit.
If the Justice Department pursues the case, it will be the federal government’s second lawsuit against Google. In federal court in October, the department filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that Google abused its monopoly on internet search to harm competitors and consumers.
The second lawsuit will also be a show of strength by the Biden administration to rein in the power of big tech companies. President Biden has appointed critics of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to top antitrust positions in government. In July, he appointed Jonathan Kanter, who represents Google rivals Yelp and Microsoft, to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Mr. Kanter’s nomination requires confirmation by the Senate.
Mr. Biden’s antitrust appointees have chosen from decisions made during the Trump administration to bring landmark antitrust cases against the tech giants. In addition to the lawsuit against Google over search, last year, the Federal Trade Commission sued Facebook alleging abuse of power over the social network. After a judge issued the file, the FTC revised it.
With Google, the Justice Department is focusing first on search but is also investigating whether the company abused its dominance in digital advertising. Dozens of media companies, advertisers and ad technology companies have declared Google’s advertising practices to be anticompetitive. Google operates various parts of the digital ad auction, including buying ads for marketers and selling ad space by publishers.
The agency is looking into allegations that Google and Facebook entered into an illegal agreement to manipulate online auctions, people with knowledge of the situation said.
Texas has led a lawsuit by several state attorneys general accusing Google of competitive abuses in ad technology. It is unclear whether the Justice Department will engage with the states in their complaint.