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Google Facing Monster $26 Billion Dollar Fine After UK Probe Of Search & Ad Power

Google is facing the possibility of a monster A$26 billion dollar fine after a UK court ruled that they must face an extensive trial after the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, recently investigated the power they hold in the global search market.

The case was bought by a group called Ad Tech Collective Action, who claimed that the search giant behaved in an anti-competitive way which caused online publishers in the UK to lose money.

In Australia Google has just spent millions propping up news Companies after Meta pulled the plug on funding news organisations several now claim they will struggle without social media funding from Meta.

the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, in London, ruled overnight that the case must now go to trial, Google parent company Alphabet called the case “incoherent” in its attempts to get the legal action dropped.

Legal director, Oliver Bethell, at Google described the lawsuit as “speculative and opportunistic.”

“This is a decision of major importance to the victims of Google’s anti-competitive conduct in adtech,” said former Ofcom director Claudio Pollack, now a partner in Ad Tech Collective Action.

“Google will now have to answer for its practices in a full trial.”

According to the BBC the case is based on the use of advertising technology, usually shortened to adtech, which decides which online adverts people see, as well as how much they cost to publishers.

Hosting such adverts is a huge source of revenue for many websites – Ad Tech Collective Action says digital advertising spend reached $490 billion in 2021.

At the core of the claim is the allegation that Google is abusing their dominance in the market and that their control of the industry, reduces the income websites get.

Ad Tech Collective Action says Google has engaged in what is known as “self-preferencing” – in other words promoting its own products and services more prominently than that of its rivals.

It says that means publishers end up getting less money for the ads they host as well as having to pay “very high” fees to Google.

Google headquarters

Google headquarters

“I look forward to working with our legal and economic advisers to deliver compensation for years during which the relevant markets did not provide a competitive outcome for the UK publishing market,” Mr Pollack said.

But it will be a long time before any of this is resolved – it has already taken eighteen months to get to this point, and no court date has been set.

The case is what is known as opt-out, meaning all relevant UK publishers are included unless they indicate otherwise.

It is being funded by an unknown third-party and says UK publishers who form part of the claim will not pay costs to participate.

It comes as Google faces probes by regulators in Australia, the UK, Europe and US into its adtech business, while the firm has already faced fines valued at billions of pounds from the European Commission over what it labelled anticompetitive behaviour.



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