AMSTERDAM - Tech giant Google is facing damages claims of up to 25 billion euros in two collective lawsuits announced on Tuesday. The claims are expected to be officially filed next week. The two cases are being brought on behalf of publishers in the United Kingdom and the European Union who say they have been harmed by the Alphabet subsidiary due to its digital advertising practices.
The allegations include a claim that Google has distorted competition around its own bidding auction technique for online advertisements. Google itself benefited financially from this, at the expense of publishers, the attorneys filing the case said. The class actions are being filed in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
"It is time that Google owns up to its responsibilities and pays back the damages it has caused to this important industry,” said Damien Geradin of the law firm Geradin partners in a statement on Tuesday. “That is why today we are announcing these actions across two jurisdictions to obtain compensation for EU and UK publishers.”
The Dutch claim is open to publishers who may have been harmed by Google’s adtech practices. The claim filed with the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal will seek compensation for all website owners who display banner advertising, who have not opted out of the suit.
"This lawsuit is speculative and opportunistic. When we receive the complaint, we'll fight it vigorously," a spokesperson for Google told Reuters.
Both the European Commission and the United Kingdom are already investigating Google’s adtech business to determine if it gives the company an unfair advantage, Reuters reported.
Last year, Google was fined 220 million euros by the French competition authorities for abusing its dominant position in the online advertising market. On Wednesday, the General Court of the European Court of Justice will rule on a billion-dollar fine imposed by the European Commission in another case, namely that the group used the mobile operating system Android to squeeze out competitors.
Over the past ten years, Google has been fined more than 8 billion euros in the EU for unfair competition.