After Facebook, now Google has been slapped with another anti-trust complaint.
Backed by Republican attorneys general from 10 U.S. states, the lawsuit filed in federal court in Texas on Wednesday is specifically pointing fingers at Google’s gigantic role as a middleman in the complicated chain that links online publishers wanting to sell space to advertisers.
But that’s not all.
The lawsuit also alleges that Google colluded with Facebook to manipulate the online ad market and limit competition as well.
In a video posted on Twitter, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that the Alphabet-owned search giant leveraged their monopolistic position to control the pricing of online ads. He then further went on to state that such actions aren’t deemed to be fair as they can severely harm every person in America.
In response to these claims, the California-baed tech giant, in a statement, said the lawsuit is absolutely meritless and that the company will defend itself in the court.
Google also mentioned that prices fo digital advertising and ad technology have seen a decline over the last decade and that they charge less for their ad-tech tools when compared to the industry average.
Google Imposing Unlawful ‘Monopoly Tax’
A humongous percentage of Google’s overall revenue is mostly generated by ad sales. Last year itself it pulled almost $134.81 billion in advertising dollars.
The topmost search giant, over the years, has steadily positioned itself as an essential middleman in the global ad market, a role, the lawsuit alleges has allowed Google to exploit both businesses and consumers by imposing a ‘monopoly tax’.
To break it down, Google owns the entire digital advertising exchange and therefore also sets the rules for trading along with acting as the broker which helps publishers sell ad inventory to advertisers.
Anti-Trust Lawsuit: Google And Facebook In The Same Boat!
Now, when it comes to Facebook, the lawsuit claimed Google instead of making a potential rival out of them, joined hands instead.
It accused that the Alphabet-owned search giant cut several illegal deals with the social media giant which helped the latter to gain an advantage in some Google-run ad auctions and in return Facebook didn’t challenge Google’s dominance.
The lawsuit also claimed that Google allegedly gave a special code name to Facebook referencing a Star Wars Character (redacted in the public complaint) for the illegal deals.
But, as usual, Google moved to deny any such unlawful exclusive arrangements with Facebook and said that they do not receive any special data or incentives.
Lastly, the complaint made the accusation that Google violated their user’s privacy by making a deal with Facebook which would give them access to the messages on WhatsApp, the instant messaging app the social media behemoth bought in 2014. That being said, it is, however, unknown on what the lawsuit accuses of Google doing with that data.
In response to this, the search giant said that it is completely accurate as the complaint seems to be related to the option for users to use Google Drive as a backup option for their WhatsApp data, something which Google has no use for when it comes to targeted advertisements.
2020: The Year Of Reckoning For Big Tech?
After years of free reign for big tech companies, the U.S. Government, from this year onwards, seem to be finally challenging their influence and control in the digital domain.
Earlier this month, the FTC aka Federal Trade Commission along with 48 attorneys general hit Facebook with two lawsuits which claim the social media giant unfairly crushed its competitors – Instagram and WhatsApp in the early days and therefore should be broken up.
At the same time, during the Trump administration, lawmakers growing increasingly frustrated with Big Tech released a much-anticipated report in October which accused Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple of being the main Internet gatekeepers whose power must be kept in check. As a result, currently, even Apple and Amazon are also under scrutiny from federal agencies and state attorneys general.
Combined, all these legal strikes spell nothing but ‘reckoning’ and beg us to question – Is the love affair between Washington and Big Tech finally over? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments down below. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.