US States Bring Action Against Google Claiming Wide-Scale Anti-Trust Practices

Breaking: A lawsuit filed against Google in the Eastern District Court of Texas alleges that the company entered into a secret agreement with Facebook designed to block rival ad exchanges and manipulate online advertising auctions.

 

According to the 130-page document, Google and Facebook colluded in order to create an exclusionary environment that allowed Google to create a pervasive monopoly over online advertising in what amounts to shameless abuse of US antitrust laws.

The highly redacted lawsuit alleges that Google used these exclusionary tactics to completely embed its monopolistic control over the online advertising sphere.

Shocking redacted portions of the lawsuit appear to show that Google dishonestly promoted AMP to publishers as a way to enhance load times – while simultaneously manipulating load times behind the scenes to ‘create an artificial one second delay' on frameworks it didn't favor.

211. Google falsely told publishers that adopting AMP would enhance load times, but Google employees knew that AMP only improves the (redacted) and AMP pages can actually (redacted) (redacted) (redacted). In other words, the ostensible benefits of faster load times for cached AMP version of webpages were not true for publishers that designed their web pages for speed. Some publishers did not adopt AMP because they knew their pages actually loaded faster than AMP pages.

Only time will tell, but the lawsuit now filed against the tech giant implies that Google has subjugated the digital advertising sphere not through fair competitive practices, but by strong-arming its competition out of the way. 

For businesses that have worked in the SEO and online advertising field over the years, these allegations will ring very serious alarm bells, bringing back memories of the many conspiracies that have been trumpeted over the years. 

Perhaps most frightening of all, the alleged deal between Facebook and Google, appears to bring the security and privacy of Whatsapp messages into question. The lawsuit claims:

Google also has violated users' privacy in other egregious ways when doing so is convenient for Google. For instance, shortly after Facebook acquired WhatsApp, in 2015, Facebook signed an exclusive agreement with Google, granting Google access to millions of Americans' end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp messages, photos, videos, and audio files. As Google discussed internally, WhatsApp (redacted). They did not know that Google (redacted). As internal documents reveal, upon signing the agreement, Facebook and Google started (redacted), without letting users know. Rather than being concerned about this fundamental breach of privacy, Google internally was (redacted). In an internal document discussing the deal, Google discussed (redacted) In other words, Google is more concerned about bad publicity than about users' privacy.

If proven in a court of law, this could mean that millions of private messages previously thought to be secure may have been accessed by Google. If this turns out to be true, it will no doubt also bring about huge concerns over the potential that US government agencies also accessed those private messages via gag orders and warrants

The claims made in the lawsuit are extremely concerning, they reveal that Google has been purposefully crushing small businesses for its own ends.

All eyes will now be on the case going forward to see whether Google is finally prevented by regulators from engaging in overt anti-competitive practices.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

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