The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly prepping to sue Google over the tech behemoth’s dominance in the digital advertising space.
The DOJ is expected to file the lawsuit in court by the end of the week, sources familiar with the preparations told Bloomberg. It will be the latest in series of antitrust cases made against the company by federal and state government entities.
Google has not made a statement on the reported legal maneuver from the DOJ, though the company has before denied allegations of monopolistic business practices. In testimony and court filings in the past, the company has pointed to companies such as Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft as strong competitors in the digital ad space.
Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., holds the largest share of business in the United States’ $278.6 billion digital-ad market, as well as the top slot in the $626.86 billion global digital ad market.
The DOJ’s reported lawsuit will follow previous legal action taken against the tech giant in 2020 — when the department sued Google over the company’s search practices.
Then-Attorney General William Barr said at the time that Google is the “gatekeeper of the Internet.”
“This lawsuit strikes at the heart of Google’s grip over the internet for millions of American consumers, advertisers, small businesses and entrepreneurs beholden to an unlawful monopolist,” he said.
In November, Google settled a legal challenge brought by dozens of states over the company’s use of location tracking. Google agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with the attorneys general of 40 states that said the company continued to monitor the people’s movements even after turning off their phones’ location tracking feature.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman José Castañeda said in a statement.
In addition to its antitrust court challenges, Google has also faced recent claims of political bias against Republicans. The Republican National Committee (RNC) filed an FEC complaint against Google in April alleging that the company was suppressing GOP campaign emails through the use of its spam filter for Gmail.
In its complaint, the RNC cited a March 2022 study by North Carolina State University’s Department of Computer Science researchers.
“The study’s findings are shocking,” the complaint said. “All three services displayed some disparity, with Outlook marking Democrat emails as spam approximately 27% more than Republican emails, and Yahoo marking Democrat emails as spam approximately 14% more. In comparison, however, Google’s Gmail truly stands apart, as it marked Republican emails as spam at more than an 820% higher rate than it marked emails from Democrat candidates.”
The Federal Election Commission announced earlier this month that it found the allegations against Google’s Gmail to be unfounded.
“Though the NCSU Study appears to demonstrate a disparate impact from Google’s spam filter, it explicitly states that its authors have ‘no reason to believe that there were deliberate attempts from these email services to create these biases to influence the voters,’” the FEC said in a letter to Google.