Alaska, Florida, Puerto Rico join Texas Attorney General’s antitrust lawsuit against Google

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed an amended complaint against Google, claiming the tech company carried out antitrust violations and deceptive acts in regards to its advertising business.

Paxton announced Tuesday that attorneys general from Alaska, Florida, Montana, Nevada and Puerto Rico have now joined the lawsuit, which originally had 10 states on board, with Texas leading the charge. This makes 15 states or territories total to be a part of the case.

“Google collects thousands of data points about people and uses that information for its own gain while lying to advertisers, publishers, and consumers about their conduct and underlying motives. We will not allow this unprecedented, unlawful conduct to continue. Our coalition looks forward to holding Google accountable for its illegal conduct and reforming Google’s practices in the future. And we are confident Google will be forced to pay for its misconduct through significant financial penalties,” Paxton said in a statement Tuesday.

The original suit was filed in December 2020, alleging Google violated antitrust and consumer protection laws and used exclusionary practices in its advertising industry. It also claims Google’s agreement with Facebook has allowed the company to monopolize the industry.

In a January 2021 blog post, Google’s Director of Economic Policy Adam Cohen said Paxton’s claims are “misleading.” Cohen explained how the company’s “Open Bidding” agreement with Facebook works.

“Facebook Audience Network (FAN)’s involvement isn’t a secret. In fact, it was well-publicized and FAN is one of over 25 partners participating in Open Bidding. Our agreement with FAN simply enables them (and the advertisers they represent) to participate in Open Bidding,” the post said.

Additionally, Paxton alleges Google “diminished publishers’ ability to monetize content, increased advertisers’ costs, and directly harmed consumers.”

Cohen said in the blog post Paxton is painting Google’s involvement in the advertising industry as “nefarious.”

“Unlike some B2B companies in this space, a consumer internet company like Google has an incentive to maintain a positive user experience and a sustainable internet that works for all—consumers, advertisers and publishers,” Cohen wrote.

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