DUBAI: Google has offered to make concessions, including splitting parts of its online advertising business into a separate company under parent Alphabet, in an effort to avoid a second lawsuit from the US Department of Justice, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The first lawsuit, filed in 2020, alleged that Google had weaponized its dominance in online search and advertising to kill off competition and disadvantage consumers.
“This lack of competition harms users, advertisers and small businesses in the form of fewer choices, reduced quality (including on metrics like privacy), higher advertising prices, and less innovation,” US Attorney General William P. Barr said at the time.
The latest offer is part of multiple concessions the tech giant has suggested to avoid lawsuits that allege anti-competitive practices, the report added.
It is unclear whether the offer will satisfy the Department of Justice. Its antitrust chief, Jonathan Kanter, previously stated he would rather go to court than accept settlements.
In a speech to the New York State Bar Association’s Antitrust Section this year, he said: “After the ink has dried and the press cycle has faded, does a settlement in fact restore competition? Does it preserve the competitive process? Most importantly, does our overall approach to remedies, carried out across cases and industries, protect competition as the law demands? We are law enforcers, not regulators.”
Google has come under fire from governments and watchdogs in other countries and territories, too. The EU, for example, has raised three antitrust cases against the tech giant. The company petitioned a European court this year to dismiss a €1.49 billion ($1.5 billion) fine imposed by EU antitrust regulators three years ago. Altogether the three cases have resulted in fines totaling €8.25 billion.
And in May, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority launched a second antitrust probe into Google’s advertising technology business. The company has stated that it does not intend to sell it.
It said: “As we’ve said before, we have no plans to sell or exit this business, and we’re deeply committed to providing value to a wide array of publisher and advertiser partners in a highly competitive sector.”