A group of US states has extended an antitrust complaint against Google, addressing its move to a new advertising tracking method.
The attorneys general of 13 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have taken issue with the search giant's plan to replace third-party cookies in Chrome, slamming the move as a walled garden approach that forces advertisers to do business with Google.
The states have amended a complaint filed in December that accuses the company of misleading users and advertisers alike. The original document accused the advertising giant of manipulating users into logging into Chrome and routing advertising requests to its own exchange, even when a competing exchange had submitted a higher bid.
The amendments address Google's proposal last year for a new way of tracking users which would see it eliminate third-party cookies. The company recently detailed plans to replace this with a mechanism called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which will track people in aggregate, clustering together large groups of people with similar interests.
This has prompted criticism from Oracle executives among others, who worry that the company is cementing its position as the gatekeeper for digital advertising by collecting proprietary information about web users.
The litigant states warn that cutting out third-party cookies will reduce options for advertisers.
"By blocking cookies, and through proposals in Privacy Sandbox, Google forcibly inserts itself in the middle of publishers’ business relationships with non-Google advertising companies, cutting off publishers’ ability to transact with rivals without also going through Google," it continues.
Texas is leading the multi-state lawsuit. Its attorney general Ken Paxton has led a campaign against big tech companies, which he accused of partisan politics after several of them censored former president Trump in January. Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have joined it in the suit.
This isn't the only antitrust suit against Google. The Department of Justice also charged the company with anticompetitive practices last October.
Get the ITPro. daily newsletter
Receive our latest news, industry updates, featured resources and more. Sign up today to receive our FREE report on AI cyber crime & security - newly updated for 2023.
Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing.
Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.