Google antitrust case: More US states join Texas lawsuit

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Four more states have joined a lawsuit filed by Texas and others against Google’s Alphabet, accusing it of violating antitrust laws to boost its already dominant advertising business, a Texas prosecutor said Tuesday.

The case, filed in December, is joined by Alaska, Florida, Montana, Nevada and Puerto Rico, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. This brings the number of plaintiffs in the case to 15 states and territories.

The lawsuit was one of three filed last year by the federal government or the states against Google.

Announcing the amended complaint on Tuesday, Paxton and other attorneys general also revealed details of Google relationship with Facebook.

“Our coalition looks forward to holding Google accountable for its illegal behavior and reforming Google’s practices in the future,” Paxton said in a statement. “We are confident that Google will be forced to pay for its misconduct through significant financial penalties.”

Google is fighting the allegations, and Thursday’s hearing is expected to include a discussion of the company’s federal court petition in Texas to move the case to California.

The lawsuit accuses Google of violating the law in how it dominates the steps in the process of placing ads online. He claims that Google is quietly allying with its closest online advertising competitor, Facebook, and that it is using the justification to protect users’ privacy to act unfairly. Publishers complain that one result is lower revenue.

The amended complaint states that Facebook and Google “work together to identify the users they use Apple products, “no details. Apple Inc. in recent years on its own Safari browser and iPhone models has increased ways to block what it sees as privacy penetration by ad technology companies, some of which have tried to create circumvention measures.

Facebook, Google and Apple did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The revised complaint also adds that from 2015, Google can view messages from Facebook WhatsApp a service that users have backed up to Google Drive’s cloud storage system.

Google knows that users are not informed of its access, but “has not done anything to correct this misunderstanding,” the lawsuit said.

Google Drive gained nearly 250 million new users by June 2016 because of the WhatsApp partnership, according to the lawsuit.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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