the Department of Justice goes on the attack

Insigne sur un pupitre du Département de la justice américain

There, it’s done. The United States Department of Justice, supported by 8 states, announced on January 24, sue Google over its monopolistic position on several technology products used for digital advertising. According to the federal government, the shares of the tech giant violated sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, a law introduced in 1890 to limit anti-competitive business practices in the United States. The case could take several years to settle, but it could profoundly change the digital advertising market in Uncle Sam’s territory.

15 years of anti-competitive practices

The rumors have been confirmed, the US Department of Justice wants to block Google’s dominance in the online advertising sector. He is accused of ” monopolize the main digital advertising technologiescollectively referred to as the “ad tech stack”, on which website publishers depend to sell ads and advertisers to buy them and reach potential customers “. Their objective is to restore competition in these markets and obtain fair and monetary reparation for Americans “.

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For the Department, over the past 15 yearsGoogle built its monopoly by engaging in anti-competitive behavior. neutralizing or eliminating its competitors with acquisitions, requiring publishers and advertisers to use its products, and preventing the use of competing products “.

Merrick B. Garland, United States Attorney General, explains that “ the complaint filed today alleges that Google engaged in unlawful anti-competitive behavior to eliminate or greatly reduce any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies “. He adds that ” whatever the sector and whatever the company, the Department of Justice vigorously enforce our antitrust laws to protect consumerspreserve competition and ensure economic fairness and opportunity for all “.

Google’s influence in the digital advertising market

Google throne today in the first place of the American market, but also international, digital advertising. The analysis firm EMarketer estimates this sector at 626.86 billion dollars. According to the Department of Justice, ” Google pockets on average more than 30% of the money that passes through its digital advertising technology products “.

To repair the damage caused, the Alphabet subsidiary is asked to pay, in damages, three times the losses suffered by federal government agencies that overspent on their web display advertising. But also fair redress for the American public. Vanita Gupta, Associate Attorney General, points out that “ the actions [de Google] have weakened the free and open Internet and increased the cost of advertising for U.S. businesses and government, including our military “.

Recurrences and consequences

This is the second time the Department has sued Google. In 2020, the Mountain View-based company was accused of abusing its dominant position in the online search market. A first trial in this case should take place next September.

In France, in June 2021, Google had already been fined 220 million euros for these same abuses. In response, the company made some changes to facilitate the use of data by publishers and the use of its tools with other advertising technologies.

For Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general at the head of the antitrust division of the United States Department of Justice, relayed by the FinancialTimesthe new federal government complaint is a ” historical moment ». He specifies that it should make it possible to ” protect competition in the digital marketplace of ideaswhere strong network effects make monopoly power even more enduring and harmful, and abuses by firms with this power like Google even more pernicious “.