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A Group Of US States File Amended Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

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The latest in an onslaught of legal troubles of Google over its business practices is an amended version of the US states’ antitrust lawsuit that accuses it of stifling competition in the online advertising industry. The Texas-led lawsuit alleges that the company used “coercive tactics” and broke antitrust laws to unfairly boost its advertising business. It drove out the competition in the market by using monopolistic behavior with advertisers.

According to a Reuters report, the amended lawsuit also talks about a secret program dubbed “Project Bernanke”. Google used this program in 2013 to give its own ad-buying an advantage by using bidding data. In 2015, the company allegedly leveraged Project Bernanke to drop the second-highest bids from publishers’ auctions. It reportedly accumulated money and then used it to inflate the bids from companies that used Google Ads. This unfairly enabled companies that may have otherwise lost the auctions to emerge as winners.

As expected, Google is once again denying any wrongdoing. A company spokesperson said the lawsuit “mischaracterizes” an improvement it has made to “optimize” advertisers’ bids. “Just because (Texas) Attorney General (Ken) Paxton asserts something doesn’t make it true. This lawsuit is riddled with inaccuracies,” Google said in a statement.

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There’s no end to the legal troubles of Google

Google’s business practices have attracted antitrust investigations in several parts of the world. These investigations mostly surround its advertising business, where it is alleged to have misused its market dominance to stifle competitors. Other Google products such as Search, Chrome, Android, and Assistant have also been the subjects of these investigations.

Earlier this month, the European Union (EU) General Court dismissed the company’s appeal against a 2017 ruling by the European Commission (EC) that found it unfairly promoting its comparison shopping service over rivals’ through its search engine. The EC had imposed a fine of €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) on Google.

Before that, reports emerged in September that the EU is investigating the Mountain View-based tech giant over allegations that it forced Android device manufacturers to use Google Assistant as the default virtual assistant. A group of US states has also sued Google for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly for its Play Store on Android devices.

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Now, another group of US states has come up with an amended version of their joint lawsuit against its business practices in the advertising industry. It will be interesting to see whether the company ever finds a way out of all these legal troubles.