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Google Takes Up to 42% From Ads, States Claim in Lawsuit

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(Bloomberg) -- Google takes up to 42% of the money paid for digital ads published online, according to a newly unsealed court filing by states that claim the search and advertising giant abuses its monopoly power in online advertising to limit competition and harm consumers.

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The Alphabet Inc. unit runs the biggest electronic marketplace in the world, according to the states, processing 11 billion online ad spaces every day through its AdX exchange.

“More daily transactions are made on AdX than on the NYSE and NASDAQ combined,” a group of 16 states and Puerto Rico said in their complaint, saying they were quoting “Google’s own words.”

The document was filed in August, with redactions to shield information that could be commercially sensitive. It was refiled in a mostly unredacted form Friday, after a judge in Manhattan ruled last week that most of the material should be publicly available.

“Google now uses its immense market power to extract a very high tax of 22 to 42% of the ad dollars otherwise flowing to the countless online publishers and content producers such as online newspapers, cooking websites, and blogs who survive by selling advertisements on their websites and apps,” the states said in the unredacted filing.

Google said in a statement that the state’s suit is “riddled with inaccuracies.”

“In reality, our advertising technologies help websites and apps fund their content, and enable small businesses to reach customers around the world. There is vigorous competition in online advertising, which has reduced ad tech fees, and expanded options for publishers and advertisers,” the company said.

The lawsuit, filed by a group of states led by Texas, is one of four government antitrust complaints against Google. The Justice Department and a different group of states have sued Google in separate cases over its dominance in Internet search, while another state case was filed this year over Google’s Android mobile operating system.

The case is: In re Google Digital Advertising Antitrust Litigation, 21-md-03010, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

(Adds Google statement in sixth paragraph.)

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