Texas and nine other states sued Google on Wednesday, accusing it of working with Facebook Inc in an unlawful manner that violated antitrust law to boost its already-dominant online advertising business.
The states asked that the Alphabet Inc-owned company, which controls a third of the global online advertising industry, compensate them for damages and sought “structural relief,” which is usually interpreted as forcing a company to divest some of its assets.
The Texas lawsuit is the second major complaint from regulators against Google and the fourth in a series of federal and state lawsuits aimed at reining in alleged bad behaviour by Big Tech platforms that have grown significantly in the past two decades.
Google called the Texas lawsuit “meritless.”
Wednesday’s action raises the legal stakes for Google, which is expected to face a third antitrust lawsuit from more than 30 attorneys general on Thursday, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Online publishers including Genius Media Group and news website The Nation alleged on Wednesday in a separate antitrust lawsuit, which seeks class action status, that they lost revenue because of Google’s dominance in online ads. They demand Google divest part of its ads business.
In its lawsuit, Texas asks a judge to find Google guilty of breaking antitrust law and to order the violations to stop. It accuses Google of abusing its monopoly over the digital ads market, allowing its own exchange to win ad auctions even when others bid higher and overcharging publishers for ads.
It also accused Google of working with Facebook. The two companies compete heavily in internet ad sales and together capture over half of the market globally.
“As internal Google documents reveal, Google sought to kill competition and has done so through an array of exclusionary tactics, including an unlawful agreement with Facebook, its largest potential competitive threat,” the lawsuit said.