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    Google vows to ‘vigorously fight’ $25bn in potential antitrust fines in Europe

    The tech giant is under the gun as antitrust efforts across the globe heat up.

    Two new lawsuits, filed in the UK and the Netherlands, take aim at Google’s adtech practices, alleging that they unfairly inhibit competition for other publishers. The two suits, announced today, seek up to $25.4bn in damages from lost advertising revenues on behalf of various publishers, per reports by Reuters.

    The tech giant is pushing back on the allegations. A spokesperson for Google said in a statement shared with The Drum: “This lawsuit is speculative and opportunistic. When we receive the complaint, we'll fight it vigorously.” 

    The spokesperson suggested that Google doesn’t impede competition but rather supports it by “work[ing] constructively with publishers across Europe.” They said that Google’s advertising technology and tools – as well as competitors’ offerings – “help millions of websites and apps fund their content and enable businesses of all sizes to effectively reach new customers.”

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    The announcement comes just over a year after France’s competition authorities fined Google nearly $268m for a number of anti-competition practices that included exploiting its position in the market to self-preference its ad servers for publishers and app developers. It also got the company to make new interoperability agreements.

    In the years prior, Google has faced a handful of other major antitrust enforcement actions in Europe, against AdSense in 2019, Android in 2018 and Google Shopping in 2017.

    And as of today, Google is still being investigated by antitrust enforcement bodies in both the UK and the EU. Much of the investigation centers upon Google’s adtech stack and whether the company unfairly favors its own display ad services over those of competitors, thereby hampering other providers, publishers and advertisers.

    Meanwhile, in the US, a bipartisan group of legislators earlier this year introduced the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act, a bill that seeks to force Google and Meta to break up their advertising businesses. The bill was proposed just over a year after Google was entangled in a number of anti-competition scandals that pulled back the veil on a ‘sweetheart’ deal with Facebook over the two companies’ advertising dominance and a clandestine program that gave undue preference to its own ad-buying technology.

    As antitrust efforts ramp up around the world, it’s unclear when the tipping point will come. 

    For more, sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter here.

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