EU Launches New Antitrust Charges Against Google’s Ad Tech Business

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Tech News Summary:

  • Google is facing new antitrust charges in the EU for allegedly obstructing rivals’ access to user data for online advertising while protecting its own use of data. The investigation began in 2021.
  • The EU investigation originally included Google’s agreement with Meta Platforms Inc. but was dropped at the end of 2022. The investigation was expanded after new evidence was filed by the Portuguese competition authority.
  • Google continues to fight EU antitrust fines in court despite receiving a landmark €4.34 billion fine in 2018 for its Android mobile operating system’s practices. Last year, EU judges reduced that penalty to €4.125 million euros. The investigations highlight concerns about big tech companies’ power over consumer data and their potential impact on competition and privacy rights.

The European Union (EU) has launched fresh antitrust charges against Google’s ad tech business. The move follows complaints by several online advertising firms that Google has been abusing its dominant position to boost its own ad tech services.

The EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, said on Tuesday that it had sent a statement of objections to Google, accusing the company of anti-competitive behavior in the online advertising market. The statement of objections is a formal charge sheet that sets out the European Commission’s concerns about a company’s potential violation of EU competition rules.

In a statement, the European Commission said that Google had “abused its market power in the online advertising industry to the detriment of competitors and consumers.” The commission specifically accused Google of giving preferential treatment to its own ad tech services, such as Ad Manager and AdX, which are used by publishers to sell ad space on their websites.

The commission also accused Google of blocking rivals from accessing its user data, thereby depriving them of the ability to target ads to specific audiences. This, the commission said, gave Google an unfair advantage over its competitors and harmed consumers by reducing the choice of online ads available to them.

Google has denied the allegations and said it would defend itself against the charges. In a blog post on Tuesday, the company’s senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, said that Google had “worked hard to create a level playing field for the industry” and that its ad tech services had “helped publishers of all sizes and types earn more revenue.”

The EU’s antitrust charges against Google are the latest in a series of investigations into the company’s business practices. In 2017, the European Commission fined Google a record €2.4bn ($2.8bn) for abusing its dominant position in the search engine market. The company is currently appealing the decision.

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