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Google faces new EU antitrust probe for digital advertising


The European Commission opened a  formal antitrust investigation into Google on Tuesday to assess whether the tech giant has violated EU competition rules by favouring its own online display advertising technology services, and therefore breached antitrust rules. 

“Google collects data to be used for targeted advertising purposes, it sells advertising space and also acts as an online advertising intermediary. So Google is present at almost all levels of the supply chain for online display advertising. We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack,” said European Commission Executive Vice President, Margrethe Vestager in a press release.

As part of the new probe, the commission will be assessing the restrictions that Google has placed on the ability of advertisers, publishers and other third parties to access data about user identity and user behaviour.

A spokesperson for Google said via email: “Thousands of European businesses use our advertising products to reach new customers and fund their websites every single day. (…) We will continue to engage constructively with the European Commission to answer their questions and demonstrate the benefits of our products to European businesses and consumers,” according to CNBC. 

The announcement marks the official start of a full assessment into how Google behaves in the advertising space with no set deadline for its completion.

Earlier this month, the French competition authority fined Google 220 million euros ($262 million) for abusing its market power in the online ad industry.

The commission also imposed a fine of 1.49 billion euros on Google in March 2019 for breaching antitrust rules. At the time, the Brussels-based institution said the U.S. firm had imposed restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites that prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search ads on these websites.