EU officials accuse Google of antitrust violations in its advertising tech industry

June 15, 2023: On Wednesday, the European Union charged Google with breaching antitrust rules in promotion technology, known as ad tech. It may seek the breakup of parts of the tech giant’s business to ease the bloc’s concerns.

The Commission of Europe, the administrative arm of the EU, reached a preliminary finding that Google is dominant in the European market for publisher advertising servers and programmatic ad-buying tools for the open web. The commission also said Google had abused this dominant position since at least 2014.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, will now have the chance to read the problems raised by the commission, support its position in writing, and request an oral hearing to present its comments.

The commission suggested that Google might have to break up the business to address the concerns raised and thus comply with competition rules in the bloc.

“The Commission’s preliminary view is, therefore, that only the mandatory divestment by Google of part of its services would address its competition concerns,” EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

This would be the commission’s first request to split part of a business.

″Google collects users’ data, sells advertising space, and acts as an online advertising intermediary. Hence, Google is current at almost all levels of the so-called ad tech supply chain,” she said. “Our preliminary concern is that Google may have used its market position to favor its intermediation benefits. Not only did this possibly harm Google’s competitors but also publishers’ interests while also increasing advertisers’ costs. If confirmed, Google’s practices would be illegal under our competition rules,”

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Vestager said there is an inherent conflict of interest. “Google is in every part of this supply chain.”

“We must find the remedy that would be the less intrusive,” Vestager added. “We don’t see that this inherent and inbuilt conflict of interest can be solved one more way by not owning the entire value chain.”

Shares of Alphabet were down less than 1% in premarket trading.

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