During a bipartisan questioning in the Senate, a Google Executive claimed that the company does not monopolize the digital ad market. However, the answers given did little to convince those listening, as reported by NPR. This hearing formed a preview of arguments the tech giant is likely to soon face from antitrust regulators.
This hearing was nothing to do with any lawsuit. However, the company's search and advertising business tend to be at the heart of almost all state attorney general. Supposedly the department has begun readying itself to file a lawsuit against Google in the coming weeks.
Google antitrust practices grilled in Senate hearing
On September 15, Donald Harrison, Google's president of global partnerships and corporate development, was pressed by a Judiciary subcommittee. It mainly concerned, the scope and scale of the company's digital advertising business.
Harrison was first asked whether he knew of any other company that had a similar concentration and dominance across the ad market. This refers to the tools linking advertisers to publishers.
The senator continued to point out that Google's dominance in the ad market ranges from 40% to more than 90%. Harrison responded by noting that publishers and advertisers had choices other than Google. He was here trying to make the point that Google does not monopolize the ad market.
Harrison also pointed to the fact that advertising prices had fallen in the last few years. He saw this as evidence of robust competition.
Google questioned over data use
Unsurprisingly, senators also pressed Google on its use of users data from other services to benefit its ad business. Senators asked Harrison whey he though the advertising market should not be regulated.
Harrison responded extolling the virtues of the current ad market. He noted that "I don't see the market failure that would require regulation".
Much of the hearing focused on the technicalities of the digital ad market. However, senators were able to question whether Google is biased against conservatives. This has been a long-running complaint of the right-wing.
Harrison was asked about allegations that Google had banned a conservative website from its ad network. The question stated, "isn't this behavior evidence of market power?"
Harrison responded by pointing out the website had made comments that violated Google's policies against racism. He went onto to say that, "our ads can't show up next to that kind of commentary".
This all comes amid broader concerns that big tech firms have stifled competition and harmed consumers. How this episode plays out could have a massive impact on the technology industry going forwards.