Concrete Steps in the Antitrust Lawsuits Against Google That Could Help the Journalism Industry

Antitrust lawsuits against Google from both the Department of Justice and a coalition of state attorneys general appear to be coming to a head as the two groups are scheduled to meet this Friday to talk through next steps. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that both groups “are likely to sue Google on allegations that the company is using its dominant position to suppress competition,” with the hope that lawsuit could come as soon as this summer. 

These moves come following greater scrutiny on Google’s anti-competitive actions from the journalism industry and nonprofit organizations. The News Media alliance released a white paper which exposes Google as a platform profiting off of the struggling news industry “by using its position as the nation’s dominant search engine to force publishers into unfair agreements.” The report shows how Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages harms publisher revenue and benefits its own platform, essentially forcing news organizations into implementing AMP or choosing to lose crucial web traffic — something we at the Save Journalism Project, have been calling attention to. 

This comes after the Omidyar Network released a paper from two former senior DOJ officials outlining the antitrust case against Google. That paper highlighted Google’s planned phase-out of third party cookies, concluding that doing so would “leav[e] Google with a virtual monopoly in digital advertising services.” We have repeatedly highlighted how Google’s ability to make unilateral changes to Chrome gives it an unfair advantage over news publishers, especially the phase out of third-party cookies which its own study found would reduce ad revenue for news publishers by 62%.

The following is a statement from John Stanton, former D.C. Bureau Chief at BuzzFeed and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project:

“Antitrust regulators are closing in on Google. Journalism industry advocates and legal scholars have made the case against Google’s anti competitive actions that harm news publishers, like AMP and 3PC phase out. Now state and federal regulators appear to be moving ahead with a case that could come as early as this summer. Not a moment too soon. We need urgent action to save journalism from the monopolistic power of Google.”