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US Judge Rejects Order for DOJ Official to Exit Google Ad Case

US Judge Rejects Order for DOJ Official to Exit Google Ad Case

Ivana Shteriova
Following a request from Google’s legal team to order a Justice Department official to recuse himself, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema denied the claim. The judge, however, was skeptical about the involvement and said the department should “use some wisdom” and consider having someone else lead the case.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) official in question is Jonathan Kanter, a US assistant attorney general (AAG) in charge of antitrust. Google’s lawyers asked the Justice Department to order Kanter to recuse himself from the case due to his legal representation of multiple Google rivals and critics, including Microsoft, News Corp, and Yelp.

Google’s legal team stated that Kanter’s past involvement with its competitors and his critical public remarks pose an ethical conflict and create bias in the US government’s lawsuit. The evidence they used to support their filing included an instance where Kanter personally lobbied for the agency to pursue an antitrust case against Alphabet’s Google prior to joining the DOJ.

In January, the Justice Department and eight US states accused Google of abusing its market power to monopolize digital advertising for its own financial gain while harming other advertisers. Nine additional states joined in April.

In one of the biggest legal challenges to big tech in history, the government argues that Google should be forced to sell its Ad Manager Suite, which accounts for about 12% of the company’s revenue.

Previously, Google had attempted to convince the court to close the case, arguing that its market share of 70% is not enough for a monopoly in tech advertising and that there is no evidence its actions put other advertisers in a disadvantageous position. Judge Leonie Brinkema denied Google’s motion, giving a green light for the case to proceed.

Google is fighting another antitrust case from 2020. In this case, the US government has accused the tech conglomerate of taking illegal actions to maintain a dominant position in search engines and monopolizing search and search advertising. Google has denied any wrongdoing and said quality is why it maintains its top position.

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