Press Release

Road is running out for Google’s attempts to sweet-talk regulators, as DOJ rejects Adtech Split Deal

A report in Competition Policy International indicates that the US Department of Justice will reject a deal tabled by Google that would have seen Google’s AdTech business split away into a new company. 

The reported goal of the offer was to ward off further lawsuits from the DOJ that would take aim at Google’s anti-competitive behaviour in advertising, but it appears this attempt has failed, with the DOJ expected to launch a fresh lawsuit around Google’s lucrative advertising business.

Movement for an Open Web (MOW) welcomes this rejection of what was a half-baked offer from Google, designed to protect the company’s anticompetitive business practices and misdirect regulators. MOW has produced a detailed article picking apart Google’s offer, which you can read here.

Google’s track record on collaborating with regulators is dire, with the inadequate and non-compliant quarterly report given to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority on Google’s Privacy Sandbox commitments a recent, damning example. 

As such, the DOJ’s rejection of the deal and pursuit of further action could indicate that time – and patience – is running out for Google.

A US suit would put its enormous advertising technology business under the microscope, running parallel to a European Union investigation into its AdTech business, both of which signal an increasing level of scrutiny over Google’s control of online advertising. 

The implications of Google’s monopolistic grip on online advertising are wide-ranging. By controlling online revenue streams, Google’s market power threatens not only direct competitors, but – by virtue of controlling the income of ad-supported businesses online – freedom of speech and freedom of the press across the web.

The harms are ongoing and alarm has been raised for years now. It is up to regulators and government bodies like the DOJ to not only investigate tech monopolists like Google, but to take swift, concrete and meaningful action. 

Tim Cowen, chair of the antitrust practice at Preiskel and Co and leading regulatory & competition lawyer, said: ““It’s good to know that the DOJ and CMA are ever vigilant in holding Google to account – many businesses are dependent on their actions.” 

Header image courtesy of Mitchell Luo via Unsplash (Licensed for free use under the Unsplash License)