Google seems to have landed in yet another legal battle, as an antitrust lawsuit was filed against the company by the U.S. Justice Department and attorneys general, led by Texas and nine other states. This is the second such lawsuit that has been filed against the tech giant this year. However, it looks like things are about to get even worse as the company is expected to be sued by another group of attorneys general on Thursday, according to a report by Reuters.
Google faced its first lawsuit this year in October by the US Department of Justice, which alleged that the company used its monopolistic power to dominate the search market. The lawsuit which was filed against Google on Wednesday, however, alleged that the company engaged in a series of anticompetitive deals with Facebook, and used them to consolidate its market share online advertising.
The complaint said that Google entered a deal with Facebook and other advertising companies, which allowed the companies to place ads within Google’s network of publishing partners. For example, a company starting an ad campaign on Facebook’s network, will get its ads shown even on ad spaces sold by Google’s publishers.
The deal was publicized in 2018 and was signed by high-level executives of both companies. This was codenamed Project Jedi, and was part of Google’s effort to hold its market share in online advertising. The complaint, however, focused on the undisclosed aspects of the deal. It alleged that Google gave Facebook preferential treatment.
Facebook agreed to stop supporting software that would be a threat to Google, and in return Google provided Facebook with data and policy exceptions which gave the company an unfair advantage in advertising over others.
Though it is important to note that the states did not accuse Facebook of wrongdoing in the lawsuit. Moreover Google spokesman Peter Schottenfels denied the allegations, calling them inaccurate, saying that Facebook does not receive any special data in their ongoing partnership.
The third lawsuit of this year against Google, which is expected to be filed today, mainly focuses on Google’s search engine practices. According to Reuter’s sources, at least 36 state and territory attorneys general, are going to accuse Google of violating antitrust law to maintain its dominance of online search.
The sources said that the new lawsuit alleges that Google favored its own products such as YouTube, in order to gain an upper hand in the competition, and also used its dominance to grow its presence in emerging markets such as smart speakers and car and TV software (Android Auto and Android TV).
This behavior puts those who were competing against Google and its services at a disadvantage, as they do not receive the same exposure on Google search as the search giant’s own products, and is therefore considered anticompetitive.
It has been a turbulent year for the big tech companies, not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but mostly because they have constantly come under fire and have been the target of global authorities.
Facebook is already facing two lawsuits, one from the Federal Trade Commission and another from 48 state attorneys general. As for Google, if the lawsuits are successful, the company might face serious consequences such as being required to pay a hefty fine and/or restructure already existing deals with its partners.