Four more states have joined plet filed by Texas and others against Alphabet Inc. Google which accuses him of breaking up antitrust laws to boost its already dominant advertising business, Texas Attorney General said Tuesday.
They join the lawsuit filed in December in Alaska, Florida, Montana, Nevada and Puerto Rico, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. This brings the number of plaintiffs on demand to 15 states and territories.
The lawsuit was one of three filed last year by the federal government or states against Google.
In announcing Tuesday’s amended complaint, Paxton and other attorneys general also disclosed details about Google’s relationship with Facebook Inc.
“Our coalition hopes to hold Google accountable for its illegal conduct and reform Google’s practices in the future,” Paxton said in a statement. “We are confident that Google will be forced to pay for its misconduct through significant financial penalties.”
Google is fighting the allegations and a hearing scheduled for Thursday is expected to include debate on the company’s request for a Texas federal court to move the case to California.
The lawsuit accuses Google of violating the law on how to master the steps in the online ad serving process. He alleges that Google teams up with its nearest online advertising competitor, Facebook, and uses the excuse of protecting users’ privacy to act unfairly. Publishers complain that one result has been lower revenue.
The amended complaint states that Facebook and Google “work together to identify users who use Apple products” without elaborating on any details. Apple Inc. in recent years, with its Safari browser and iPhones it has increased ways to block what it sees as intrusive user tracking in privacy by advertising technology companies, some of which have tried to devise ‘evasion.
Google, in a statement, described the new claim as a “no merit” addition to a “claim that no longer has merit.”
Facebook declined to comment and Apple did not respond to any requests for comment.
The revised complaint also adds that as of 2015, Google could see messages from Facebook’s WhatsApp service that users backed up to Google Drive’s cloud storage system.
Google knew users weren’t informed about their access, but “did nothing to correct that misunderstanding,” the lawsuit states. Google Drive gained nearly 250 million new users in June 2016 due to the WhatsApp partnership, according to the lawsuit.
Google added in its statement that the lawsuit made a “false hint that we are using a backup of WhatsApp data for advertising purposes.”