A group of attorneys general plans to accuse Google of illegally abusing its monopoly over the technology used to display ads online, the Texas attorney general said Wednesday, adding a case to the company's legal troubles that is at the heart of its business meets.
The lawsuit is expected to be the first by regulators in the US to focus on the tools that connect ad space buyers with publishers who sell them. Ads make up the majority of business profits. In October, the Justice Department and eleven states said Google illegally maintained a monopoly on online search engines and the ads in user results.
"If the free market were a baseball game, Google would position itself as the pitcher, batsman, and referee," Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said in a video on Twitter announcing the plans.
The complaint will add to the violent bipartisan backlash against one of the country's largest tech companies. Regulators in the US and Europe have focused on the oversized role Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google play in the modern economy, and everything from the way we shop to the information and entertainment that is available we see shaped.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states accused Facebook of illegally suppressing competition by acquiring younger rivals, arguing that the company should be wound up. Another case against Google, filed by a separate group of states, is expected shortly. Apple and Amazon are also under federal antitrust investigations.
The lawsuit announced on Wednesday concerns a system that is largely invisible to consumers and connects buyers of advertising space with sellers via the Internet. When an internet user clicks on a web page, technology developed by Google and other companies enables the website owner to sell an advertisement on that page in real time.
"Attorney General Paxton's ad-tech claims are unfounded, but he acted against all the facts," said a Google spokeswoman, Julie McAlister. "We will defend ourselves emphatically against his unfounded claims in court."
This is a developing story. Check for updates again.