Google receives new EU complaint over search engine changes

(Bloomberg) – Google is on a collision course with advertisers and publishers who have filed a new antitrust complaint with the European Union ahead of the US tech giant’s legal battle over a record antitrust fine of $5 billion.

Movement for an Open Web, an industry group, has asked the European Union to curb the way Google changes its search engine, after the company imposed ad tracking changes that threaten to affect revenue streams advertisers and publishers.

A previous complaint fueled a UK probe and group members now want their testimonies to reinforce the wide range of the European Commission investigation in Google’s advertising technology.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., has been embroiled in various antitrust battles in Europe for more than a decade. His lawyers are currently difficult a record fine of 5 billion EU dollars during a five-day hearing in Luxembourg. Earlier this year, the EU said it would investigate Google’s privacy changes and how the search giant might favor its own online ad display technologies over rivals.

Officials are increasingly looking at the black box of online advertising where Google automatically calculates and offers ad space and prices to advertisers and publishers when a user clicks on a web page.

The EU is still defending past rulings against Google, including the 2018 finding that the company cemented its position on mobile search and advertising with restrictive contracts that pushed its apps to phones.

“These interlocking restrictions helped Google ensure that its competitors would not achieve the critical mass necessary to challenge Google’s dominant position,” EU lawyer Carlos Urraca Caviedes told the EU General Court at Luxembourg, which can take up to a year to render a judgement. .

Cookies

The vast operations and power of Google mean that a movement restricting tracking by phasing out third-party cookies – as part of a broader privacy policy – ​​can have a big impact on the advertising market. Advertisers filed the new complaint asking Google to check with the EU or others before making future changes.

The commission said it received the complaint and “will assess it under standard procedures.”

The complaint argues that Google’s limitation of advertisers’ ability to collect information about Internet users will hurt publishers’ revenue because they won’t be able to offer more relevant targeted ads. Advertisers want to see more regulatory oversight from Google, going beyond a potential settlement the company has Free UK authorities are ending their investigation into the company’s so-called privacy sandbox.

“Google puts itself in the position of deciding what data can be shared across the web and with whom,” the group said in an emailed statement. “Such power can only be wielded by regulators and threatens the open web.”

Representatives from Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., referred to an earlier statement in which they said they were working on “new proposals to underpin a healthy, ad-supported web without third-party cookies.”

“Creating a more private Web, while enabling publishers and advertisers who support the free and open Internet, requires the industry to make major changes to how digital advertising works,” Google said.