Bipartisan Coalition of States Expands Google Antitrust Lawsuit to Include Privacy Sandbox with Focus on Decline in News Publishers’ Revenue

WASHINGTON, DC – As Google tries to scheme its way to complete control of the digital ad market, state antitrust watch dogs are not letting the company get away with it so easily. Last week, a group of 15 Attorneys General, led by Texas, updated their lawsuit against Google to include claims about Privacy Sandbox, the company’s use of its Chrome browser and their plans to phase out third-party tracking cookies to increase its control of the digital ad market with severe consequences for news publishers’ revenue. 

We raised the threat about Google’s plans to eliminate third-party cookies last year in our report, The State of the News: Texas. The amended complaint alleges that, “Google’s new scheme is anticompetitive because it coerces advertisers to shift spend from smaller media properties like The Dallas Morning News to large dominant properties like Google’s.” In fact, Google’s own study found that eliminating third-party cookies for news publishers would result in “an average revenue loss of 62% with a median loss of 60%.”

The Texas lawsuit is one of three ongoing antitrust cases against Google, including a Colorado-led suit that alleges the company stifled competition by manipulating search results, and a separate case by the Department of Justice that’s focused on Google’s dominance of the web search marketplace and its associated ad business. 

The following is a statement from Laura Bassett, former Senior Politics Reporter for HuffPost who was laid off in January 2019, and co-founder of the Save Journalism Project:

“This amended complaint finally tackles an issue we’ve been raising for a while–how the elimination of third-party cookies will dramatically reduce news outlets’ revenue. While consumer privacy is very important, Google’s proposed changes are not truly addressing privacy, as Google will still be harvesting more data about web users than any other company. Google is using these claims of protecting privacy to extend its monopoly. News outlets–especially regional, local, and hyper-local–will suffer catastrophic revenue loss unless this change is put on hold until suitable alternatives are found that are not dependent only on Google.”