Australia challenges Google’s advertising dominance, calls for data use rules

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SYDNEY – The Australian antitrust watchdog has asked for powers to restrict Google’s use of internet data to sell targeted ads, joining other regulators in saying the company dominates the market to the point of harming publishers, advertisers and consumers.

The comments, in a report released on Tuesday, place Australia alongside Europe and Britain where regulators want to prevent the Alphabet Inc unit from beating rival advertisers using the data it collects from people researching online – including maps and YouTube – to place marketing material.

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The US Department of Justice is preparing an anti-monopoly lawsuit accusing Google of using its market force to hamper its advertising rivals, according to media reports.

“The Europeans and the UK are currently consulting on these laws and we will try to align with them over the next year,” said Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ( ACCC), in an interview with Reuters.

“I don’t think we are far behind.

Already this year, Google said it was on the verge of pulling its basic services out of Australia due to a law – also recommended by the ACCC – requiring it to pay media companies for content that generates traffic to its search engine. He eventually signed agreements with most of the major outlets.

A Google spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the ad action. 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.

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who commissioned the report, said the government would review its findings and recommendations.

“BETTER INTERNET”

While the US Department of Justice would likely use existing competition law against Google, the ACCC said in its 200-page report that Google’s dominance over Australian 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.

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 made to publicly clarify how it is using that information to sell. and display advertisements.

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He also wants special powers to address the imbalance in advertisers’ access to consumer data, for example by introducing a rule that would prevent a business from using data collected by part of its business to sell targeted ads through a other party without a rival company getting the same benefit to.

Sims said he expected the global push to increase regulation of Google’s advertising business would increase the chances of cooperation between the US internet giant and the regulator.

“I just think they can see what’s going on and it’s in their best interest that these rules are aligned (between countries) and it’s in their best interest that they are really well thought out,” he said. he stated in the interview.

“We don’t want to stifle innovation, we don’t want to have negative effects, we just want to promote competition, reduce barriers to entry, so that consumers have a better Internet, better transparency on what is happening and businesses don’t pay too much. (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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