EU Broadens Google Adtech Probe With Portugal Case

The European Commission has taken over a Portuguese probe into Google’s digital advertising business, broadening an existing Commission investigation into the same issue.

Apple and Google are also facing a class action lawsuit in Portugal alleging their 30 percent app store commission rates are “anticompetitive and excessive”, as well as regulatory pressures worldwide.

The Commission began its probe into Google in June of last year, while the Portuguese Competition Authority (AdC) began its investigation in May of this year after a complaint.

The AdC said the EU’s competition regulator took over its case as of 27 July in view of the scope and impact of the matter.

Image credit: European Commission

‘Anti-competitive’

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The AdC said its probe focused on the market for publisher ad servers and for platforms that allow publishers to manage their advertising space.

The regulator said there were indications Google had used “information not accessible by competitors” related to online ad auctions in order to “change the outcome of those auctions in Google’s favour”.

It added that the company had “possibly limited the development of competing auction technologies”, amongst other competition-restricting behaviours in the context of its negotiations with publishers.

App store lawsuit

The class action lawsuit targeting Apple’s and Google’s app marketplace commission fees was filed in late July with the Portuguese Competition Court by Portuguese law school professor Fabrizio Esposito and seeks damages of up to 100 million euros (£87m) on behalf of millions of Portuguese app store customers.

Hausfeld, the law firm representing the case, said the companies had “systematically acted in contravention of competition law” by overcharging customers.

Apple and Google are facing similar pending lawsuits in the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Australia, as well as increased regulatory scrutiny worldwide and potential legislation that could force them to change their business models.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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