Google Faces Court Order in Probe by Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau of Canada has secured a Federal Court order to collect further information for its ongoing probe into Google’s online advertising operations.

Started in 2020, the investigation wants to know whether Google’s actions in the online display advertising sector may be stifling competition within the country.

Originally, the Bureau’s inquiry was based on accusations of Google exploiting its dominant position in video advertising to influence the advertiser buying tools market. But the scope has since expanded to investigate potential issues such as Google leveraging its market power to fend off competitors in display advertising technology, while using alleged predatory pricing strategies.

The investigation wants to find out if Google’s advertising practices are designed to undermine competition, affect competitors’ success, or lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and less innovation in the online display advertising services market.

Traditional media has seen their advertising profits decline because they do not have some of the smartest engineers in the world like Google, deploying a digital ad business. Google recently made a deal with the federal government over the Online News Act.

The Bureau is especially focused on figuring out if these practices contravene the Competition Act’s provisions against restrictive trade practices, including abuse of dominance.

Google is mandated by the court order to submit relevant records and written information. While the probe is still underway, there are no findings of misconduct at this stage.

This is not the Bureau’s first investigation into Google’s business practices. In 2021, it obtained an initial court order related to Google’s online advertising business, following a 2016 investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices related to online search and advertising.

Canada is likely following the lead of the U.S., which saw its Justice Department file a lawsuit against Google last year, alleging the latter abused its role brokering digital ads across the internet, points out the WSJ.

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