Google hit by $4 billion lawsuit from UK publishers

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On top of a lawsuit from the US Department of Justice and a lawsuit in the UK, more publishers are accusing Google of using its dominance to limit the revenue they could generate from online advertising.

Google already is in research in the UK for alleged abuse of its market power, and the local Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regulator is also investigating the dominance of the company in mobile browsing.

However, according to BBC News, a lawsuit is now underway submitted on behalf of publishers, claiming that any future fines will not help companies that allegedly suffered.

The CMA is currently investigating Google’s anti-competitive behavior in the adtech space [the online advertising algorithms]but they don’t have the power to make Google compensate those who lost,” prosecutor Charles Arthur wrote in his filing. “We can only right that wrong through the courts, which is why I’m making this claim.”

Arthur has filed a class action suit – the UK’s equivalent of a class action lawsuit – with the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). The key to the lawsuit is getting the CAT to certify that all relevant publishers are included in the case unless they specifically opt out.

This £3.4 billion ($4.2 billion) lawsuit is the second UK lawsuit against Google over its adtech online advertising system. In November 2022, a similar class action was brought by Claudio Pollack, formerly a director of UK regulator Ofcom, seeking up to £13.6 billion ($16.9 billion).

The UK’s two cases follow the US Department of Justice, which has partnered with eight US states have sued Google for alleged abuse of ‘monopoly power’. Google is accused of buying rivals to “neutralize or eliminate” competitors, doing so as part of a “cumulative and synergistic effect that has harmed competition and the competitive process”.

Separately, the UK’s CMA appeared to show that Google paid Apple a portion of the revenue it receives through the Chrome iOS app, but then edited the information.