Alphabet’s Google will be questioned at a hearing on Tuesday for its advertising business, with particular attention to whether it has abused the dominant position of online advertising to make profits.

Republican senator Mike Lee, chairman of the antitrust panel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, may also put pressure on Google, accusing its critics of complaining that its pricing of advertising services is not transparent.

A person familiar with the matter said that Lee is expected to express concern that Google may violate US antitrust laws.

The tech giant made a series of acquisitions, including DoubleClick and AdMob, to make it the dominant player in online advertising. For advertisers who want to place ads and websites that want to host ads, Google strictly controls every step.

The team will listen to Don Harrison, who took over as head of corporate development at Google in 2012, the company responsible for advertising partnerships with other companies.

Harrison testified when Google had few friends in Washington. He will argue that the ad technology ecosystem is crowded, competition is fierce, Amazon and Facebook rank first among Google’s strong competitors, and ad technology costs have fallen.

Harrison is also expected to argue that advertising is essential to support free websites including Google search.

According to people familiar with the matter, the U.S. Department of Justice is expected to file a lawsuit against Google within weeks of the hearing.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, the top Democrat on the committee, expressed support for the Justice Department’s investigation. There were two other congressmen who questioned Google at the forum: Republican Senator Josh Hawley and Democrat Richard Blumenthal.

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Google’s critics say that Google uses search to peddle its shopping, maps and other services, rather than giving a neutral response. Others claim that it unfairly favors its Android services.

© Thomson Reuters 2020


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