Australia attacks Google’s dominance of online ads, calls for data deletion

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SYDNEY – The Australian antitrust watchdog has said it wants the power to restrict Google’s use of internet data to sell targeted ads, saying the Big Tech company dominates the market to the point of harming publishers, to advertisers and consumers.

The comments, in a report released on Tuesday, set up another possible confrontation between Australia and Google months after the Alphabet Inc unit promised to pull basic services out of the country due to a new law on content licenses.

It could also trigger an anti-monopoly lawsuit that would be prepared by the US Department of Justice accusing Google of using its market power to hamper its advertising rivals. European regulators are also scrutinizing Google’s advertising activities.

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In its “ad tech” report, which has yet to be considered by the government, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that Google’s dominance over online advertising was so entrenched that existing laws were insufficient to curb any anti-competitive behavior.

More than 90% of ad clicks that passed through Australia’s ad tech supply chain went through at least one Google-owned service in 2020, the regulator said.

“Google has used its vertically integrated position to operate its ad technology services in a way that has, over time, led to a less competitive ad technology industry,” said ACCC President Rod Sims , in a press release.

“This behavior has helped Google establish and consolidate its dominant position in the ad technology supply chain. We recommend that rules be considered to manage conflicts of interest, prevent anti-competitive self-preference and ensure that Rival advertising technology providers can compete on their merits.

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A Google spokesperson was not immediately available for comment. In a blog post published shortly before the ACCC report, Google said its advertising technology supports more than 15,000 Australian jobs and contributes $ 2.45 billion a year to the Australian economy.

The ACCC said the U.S. company benefits from vast amounts of internet user data from its search engine, mapping services and YouTube video streaming, and needs to be more transparent about how it uses that information to sell advertisements.

The regulator said it wanted special powers to address the imbalance in advertisers’ access to consumer data, such as rules preventing a business from using data collected by a service – like mapping – to sell advertisers. targeted advertising without a rival company getting the same benefit.

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He said he also wants Google to publicly clarify how it uses people’s data to sell and display ads.

The “ad tech” report was part of the broader review of online platforms by the ACCC that prompted Google to say earlier this year that it could pull basic services out of the country due to laws l ‘forcing you to pay for the multimedia content presented on its websites.

Google has since announced content payment deals with most of Australia’s biggest media outlets, as has social media giant Facebook Inc, which cut news feeds in the country for a week before the law was passed. .

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who commissioned the report, said in a statement that the government would consider the report’s findings and recommendations. (Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christopher Cushing)

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In-depth reporting on The Logic’s innovation economy, presented in partnership with the Financial Post.

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