The US Department of Justice is reportedly preparing to sue Google as soon as September over its domination of the online advertising market.
Justice Department lawyers are interviewing online publishers to put final touches on the lawsuit ahead of its filing, building on other interviews conducted in previous stages of the lengthy investigation, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
The lawsuit against the search giant could reportedly be filed in either Washington, DC or New York, where Google is already battling an antitrust suit focused on the ad market from a coalition of state attorneys general led by Texas.
The Justice Department’s forthcoming suit, which has reportedly been in the works for years, is also focused on whether Google has used its massive size to squash competition in the online ad market, which generated $31.7 billion in revenue for Google in 2021.
The agency has already sued Google once, under the Trump administration in 2020, for its alleged domination of the online search market through actions such as requiring Android phone manufacturers to set Google as the devices’ default search engine.
The first suit, which is still being battled out in court, accuses Google of “unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising in the United States.”
Google has denied wrongdoing.
“Our advertising technologies help websites and apps fund their content, and enable small businesses to reach customers around the world,” Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels said in a statement to The Post. “The enormous competition in online advertising has made online ads more relevant, reduced ad tech fees and expanded options for publishers and advertisers.”
In an attempt to stave off the second Justice Department suit, Google earlier this summer proposed at least one settlement to the feds, offering to spin off the business that auctions and places ads on its digital properties as a separate company controlled by the same parent company, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Yet the Justice Department reportedly rejected the offer and is taking a hard line against Big Tech under Attorney General Merrick Garland and other Biden appointees.
Doha Mekki, the Justice Department official expected to lead the legal fight against Google, warned in April that the agency will be uncompromising in future antitrust fights.
“You’re going to see a lot more litigation from the antitrust division,” Mekki said. “The division’s position is we are not planning to take settlements. Settlements suggest compromise.”
Additional reporting by Thomas Barrabi