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Bulletins

Ten states file antitrust suit against Google over ad tech practices

Ten states file antitrust suit against Google over ad tech practices

Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the ad tech suit.

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A coalition of 10 states led by Texas is suing Google over its ad technology practices, alleging the company illegally abused its market position as a dominant player in online advertising.


The suit, which is only signed by Republican attorneys general so far, cuts to the heart of Google's business model, striking at the system that minted Alphabet $37.1 billion in revenue last quarter.

"To cement its dominance across online display markets, Google has repeatedly and brazenly violated antitrust and consumer protection laws," the lawsuit reads. "Its modus operandi is to monopolize and misrepresent. Google uses its powerful position on every side of the online display markets to unlawfully exclude competition."

In a video posted to Twitter earlier in the day, Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed Google "repeatedly used its monopolistic power to control pricing, engage in market collusions to rig auctions, and a tremendous violation of justice."

The complaint sweeps up another tech giant as well, claiming that Google entered into an "unlawful agreement" with Facebook in 2017 under which it promised to give Facebook a leg up during online ad auctions.

The lawsuit's narrative stems from Google's acquisition of ad tech company DoubleClick in 2008. Since then, the states allege, Google has deployed a series of manipulative and illegal tactics to maintain its control of the market, leveraging its power over valuable online space to crush rival efforts and boost its own services.

The suit is the government's latest salvo in a multipronged effort to rein in Big Tech's power. It comes only a week after the FTC and 46 state attorneys general sued Facebook for anticompetitive conduct, and several weeks after the Department of Justice brought a separate case against Google, which focuses on its dominance in search.

"Attorney General Paxton's ad tech claims are meritless, yet he's gone ahead in spite of all the facts," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "Google's ad tech fees are lower than the industry average. These are the hallmarks of a highly competitive industry. We will strongly defend ourselves from his baseless claims in court."

Many of Google's own words are redacted throughout the complaint.

Correction: This story was updated at 1:34 p.m. PT to correct the year in which Google acquired DoubleClick.

Power

Yes, GameStop is a content moderation issue for Reddit

The same tools that can be used to build mass movements can be used by bad actors to manipulate the masses later on. Consider Reddit warned.

WallStreetBets' behavior may not be illegal. But that doesn't mean it's not a problem for Reddit.

Image: Omar Marques/Getty Images

The Redditors who are driving up the cost of GameStop stock just to pwn the hedge funds that bet on its demise may not be breaking the law. But this show of force by the subreddit r/WallStreetBets still represents a new and uncharted front in the evolution of content moderation on social media platforms.

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
Protocol | Enterprise

SAP unveiled a big sales promo. It's a bid to juice cloud customer numbers.

The move is the culmination of CEO Christian Klein's efforts to turn around the German software giant.

SAP unveiled "RISE with SAP" on Wednesday.

Image: SAP

SAP CEO Christian Klein is trying out a major sales gambit in his attempt to get more customers onboard the software giant's signature cloud platform.

A new offer unveiled on Wednesday called "RISE with SAP" bundles together several products, including the flagship S/4 HANA platform, under one contract with a flat cost, a promotion that the company is hoping will encourage more users to more quickly switch from the on-premise services that dominated the company's product line until the last few years.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Microsoft wants to replace artists with AI

Better Zoom calls, simpler email attachments, smart iPhone cases and other patents from Big Tech.

Turning your stories into images.

Image: USPTO/Microsoft

Hello and welcome to 2021! The Big Tech patent roundup is back, after a short vacation and … all the things … that happened between the start of the year and now. It seems the tradition of tech companies filing weird and wonderful patents has carried into the new year; there are some real gems from the last few weeks. Microsoft is trying to outsource all creative endeavors to AI; Apple wants to make seat belts less annoying; and Amazon wants to cut down on some of the recyclable waste that its own success has inevitably created.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Protocol | China

More women are joining China's tech elite, but 'Wolf Culture' isn't going away

It turns out getting rid of misogyny in Chinese tech isn't just a numbers game.

Chinese tech companies that claim to value female empowerment may act differently behind closed doors.

Photo: Qilai Shen/Getty Images

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a Reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

People

Google's union has big goals — and big roadblocks

Absence of dues, retaliation fears and small numbers could pose problems for the union's dream of collective bargaining, but Googlers are undeterred.

Recruiting union members beyond the early adopters has had its challenges.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Getty Images

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The initial boom of interest from Googlers was thrilling for Alex Peterson, a software engineer and union spokesperson. "It's really reinvigorating what it means to actually be a community of Googlers, which is something that's been eroding over the past four or five years, or even longer."

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Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (@ anna_c_kramer), where she helps write and produce Source Code, Protocol's daily newsletter. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

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