Texas is now being joined by Florida, Montana, Nevada, Alaska and Puerto Rico, bringing the total number of plaintiffs in this lawsuit to 15 states and territories.
The lawsuit claims the company acted illegally in dominating the steps involved in placing ads online. It alleges that Google works quietly with its closest competitor in the online advertising sphere, Facebook, and acts unfairly under the guise of protecting users’ privacy. Publishers have complained that this behavior reduces their revenues.
In a video announcing the suit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called Google’s behavior a “tremendous violation of justice.” He said that if the free market were a baseball game, Google was essentially positioning itself as the batter, pitcher and umpire.
A recently filed updated complaint targets the search giant’s plans to phase out tracking features that use third-party cookies. Google has said they will not be offering alternative methods for tracking users after third-party cookies are phased out, which will limit companies from using such cookies on their Chrome browser.
The complaint said: “Google’s new scheme is, in essence, to wall off the entire portion of the internet that consumers access through Google’s Chrome browser.”
They added that the changes are anticompetitive because they serve as barriers to entry and exclude competition in the ad buying tool market, which will have the effect of boosting their already-dominant market power.
In other words, Google is taking advantage of Chrome’s dominance as a web browser to kill smaller advertising platforms as Privacy Sandbox will force advertisers to use its new API to reach visitors. This will effectively make Google the sole advertising platform that functions across the Web.
The AGs argue that the move would “pressure advertisers to shift to Google money otherwise spent on smaller publishers” like local newspapers.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said: “We are confident Google will be forced to pay for its misconduct through significant financial penalties.”
The revised complaint also mentions how Google was able to view messages from Facebook’s WhatsApp service that users had backed up using Google’s cloud storage system, Drive. Google allegedly knew that users were not aware of its access but did not take any action to correct this misunderstanding. According to the lawsuit, Google Drive had gained nearly 250 million new users by June 2016 as a result of the partnership with WhatsApp.
Google is also facing a class-action lawsuit alleging they violated users’ privacy by collecting their data while using the Incognito browser mode. That lawsuit, which was originally filed in June 2020, claims that the firm continues tracking and collecting people’s browsing history and other activities, even when they are using Incognito mode and other privacy-based browser settings.
The suit, which was filed in the District Court of Northern California, claims that any time a person visits a web page that is served by Google services, such as Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager and plug-ins, their data is collected without consent regardless of the browser mode they are using. The lawsuit is seeking $5 billion in damages from Google and its parent company, Alphabet.
Google does not have the best track record when it comes to operating its business fairly and protecting users’ privacy. While it is positive to see them being held accountable for their behavior, it is important to keep in mind that they are quite adept at finding new ways to dominate online advertising, track people and collect their data.
Sources for this article include: