The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it is opening a formal antitrust investigation in order to determine if Google has violated EU competition rules by favoring its own display ad services so as to disadvantage competing providers of ad tech services, advertisers and publishers - and also specifically if Google is distorting competition by restricting access to, and reserving for its own use, user data for advertising purposes.
EC Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager (pictured above) said:
“Online advertising services are at the heart of how Google and publishers monetise their online services. Google collects data to be used for targeted advertising purposes, it sells advertising space and also acts as an online advertising intermediary. So Google is present at almost all levels of the supply chain for online display advertising. We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack. A level playing field is of the essence for everyone in the supply chain."
The EC will be looking at how Google collects user data, sells advertising space and acts as an advertising intermediary.
Google said in a statement that its plans to prohibit third-party cookies on Chrome and stop making users identifiable to third parties on Android devices will strengthen the control that users have over their own data.
In the past 3 years, the EU has assessed Google a total of € 8.25B in antitrust fines.
Google has said it plans to cooperate with the new investigation.