Texas AG Ken Paxton Leads New Google Suit

Google finds itself the target of another lawsuit over its ad practices (Image credit: Google)

In his state's second bite at the Google antitrust suit apple, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said Wednesday (Dec. 16) that he is leading a multi-state lawsuit--teaming with other Republican AGS--against Google for anticompetitive conduct, exclusionary conduct and deceptive misrepresentations related to online advertising.

Back in October, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google Tuesday, joined by 11 states attorneys general, including Paxton. It called the company an illegal search and advertising monopoly and vowed to "remedy the competitive harms."

In announcing the suit, Paxton said Google had used its monopoly power to control prices, had colluded to "rig [advertising] auctions" and otherwise "violated justice."

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He said the company illegally took money from other web pages to put "in their own pockets" and that is was destroying competition, manipulating the market, and hurting consumers. 

If Google were a baseball game, he said, it had positioned itself as the pitcher, the batter and the umpire, adding that it was time to learn the hard way that "you do not mess with Texas."

Paxton is the same official behind the failed attempt to sue other states over how they ran their elections

According to reports, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah and Idaho, and their Republican AGs, are also joining the suit. 

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CCIA, which represents computer companies including Google, said it was all for reining in anticompetitive conduct that hurt consumers, but questioned whether that were the case here.

“CCIA supports antitrust enforcement where consumers are harmed," said president Matt Schruers. "However, we will be interested to see evidence of consumer harm when ad prices have decreased significantly in the past decade and competition has increased.“

For its part, Google said the suit was baseless.

“Attorney General Paxton’s ad tech claims are meritless, yet he’s gone ahead in spite of all the facts," said the company in a statement. "We’ve invested in state-of-the-art ad tech services that help businesses and benefit consumers. Digital ad prices have fallen over the last decade. Ad tech fees are falling too. 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.” 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.