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Google's ad tech targeted by EU antitrust probe

The European Commission is investigating whether Google gives itself an unfair advantage over competitors.

Google Chrome internet browser
Google must defend itself against more competition concerns.
James Martin/CNET

Google faced more antitrust concerns on Tuesday as the European Union's competition authority opened an investigation into whether the search giant favors its own digital advertising business over that of its competitors. Investigators will also look at whether Google restricts its rivals' access to user data.

The company made $147 billion from online ads last year, according to Reuters -- more than any other company.

"Google collects data to be used for targeted advertising purposes, it sells advertising space and also acts as an online advertising intermediary. So Google is present at almost all levels of the supply chain for online display advertising," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. "We are concerned that Google has made it harder for rival online advertising services to compete in the so-called ad tech stack."

Earlier this month, Google promised to make changes to its online advertising business and agreed to pay a 220 million euro ($268 million) fine after an investigation by France's competition regulator. Google also faces antitrust probes in the US.

"We will continue to engage constructively with the European Commission to answer their questions and demonstrate the benefits of our products to European businesses and consumers," a Google spokesperson said of the EU probe in an emailed statement.