EU and UK open investigations into Google-Meta deal

UK and EU regulators have threatened to crack down on Google and Facebook parent company Meta over an online display advertising services deal, saying the deal could breach fair competition rules.

The new scrutiny in Europe, which has made pioneering efforts to rein in big tech companies, strikes at the heart of Google’s business, the digital ads that generate nearly all of its revenue.

The European Union’s top competition watchdog has opened an antitrust probe into a 2018 pact for Meta’s Audience Network to participate in Google’s Open Bidding program. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said the deal, which Google has dubbed internally “Jedi Blue,” could be part of efforts to exclude ad tech services that compete with the Open Bidding program. of Google to the detriment of publishers and consumers.

At the same time, the UK Competition and Markets Authority announced a parallel investigation into the deal, which is also the subject of a state-led antitrust lawsuit against Google and in US courts.

The deal between the two internet giants was already the subject of intense scrutiny in the US, where it is part of a federal antitrust lawsuit against Google by Texas, 14 other US states and Puerto Rico. In the latest version of their complaint, they said the chief executives of both companies had approved the deal to share part of the online advertising market.

The new probes intensify scrutiny of Google’s ad tech business, which is already under investigation in Brussels and has raised concerns from Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission.

Competition authorities around the world have stepped up their efforts to crack down on big tech companies, including their power in the advertising market.

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