Justice Dept. Said to Conduct New Interviews in Inquiry Into Google’s Ad Tech

The Justice Department has in recent weeks conducted new interviews for its investigation into Google’s ad technology, a sign it may be moving closer to filing its second antitrust case against the company, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

The Justice Department for more than a year has investigated whether Google abuses its dominance over the interlocking technologies that deliver ads online. Its lawyers are now speaking again with publishers and Google’s competitors to gather new material, confirm evidence and test its legal theory ahead of a possible lawsuit, said the people, who were not authorized to discuss confidential matters.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bloomberg earlier reported the Justice Department meetings.

“The enormous competition in online advertising has made online ads more relevant, reduced ad tech fees and expanded options for publishers and advertisers,” said Peter Schottenfels, a Google spokesman.

On Aug. 31, U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York will hear Google’s motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit led by the State of Texas over the company’s ad tech practices. By waiting for a ruling on that matter, Justice Department officials could see what a judge thinks of the antitrust claims before proceeding with a lawsuit of their own, these people said.

Texas argues in its case that Google obtained and abused a monopoly over the digital advertising industry to manipulate auctions and generate profits far greater than those of rival ad exchanges. Those are the same issues that the Justice Department has been investigating, said people familiar with the investigation.

In 2020, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit arguing that Google had broken antimonopoly laws by abusing its power over online search. Later that year, the attorneys general of Texas and nine other states filed their own lawsuit focused on Google’s control of the display ad tech ecosystem, which is used by publishers like news outlets to sell ad space on their websites.

This summer, Google offered to resolve the Justice Department inquiry by moving its ad tech businesses into a separate unit under its parent company, Alphabet, according to a person with knowledge of the offer, which was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal. But the government was very skeptical of the offer, the person said.

Mr. Schottenfels said that Google was “engaging constructively with regulators to address their concerns” and “we have no plans to sell or exit this business.”

S.E.C. Broadens Inquiry Into Elon Musk’s Disclosures About Twitter

The Securities and Change Fee has broadened its inquiry into whether or not Elon Musk correctly disclosed his funding in Twitter and his intentions for the social media firm, the company revealed on Thursday in a submitting.

The company raised questions on a tweet from Mr. Musk in Could during which the billionaire claimed his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter “can’t transfer ahead” due to spam on the platform. The tweet recommended Mr. Musk deliberate to desert the deal, the S.E.C. wrote in a letter to Mr. Musk’s legal professionals in June. The letter was included in a submitting on Thursday.

The about-face was a cloth change to Twitter’s standing that ought to have been disclosed to the company and buyers, however the required disclosure by no means materialized, the S.E.C. wrote in its letter. The company additionally demanded “a transparent assertion as to Mr. Musk’s present plans or proposals with respect to the acquisition of Twitter.”

In response, Mr. Musk’s authorized workforce stated he had not modified his plans and was merely looking for extra info from Twitter. “Regardless of Mr. Musk’s want to acquire info to judge the potential spam and pretend accounts, there was no materials change to Mr. Musk’s plans and proposals relating to the proposed transaction at such time,” Mike Ringler, a lawyer for Mr. Musk, wrote in a letter in June to the S.E.C.

Final week, Mr. Musk declared that he would finish his deal for Twitter due to the prevalence of spam on the platform. Twitter has disputed Mr. Musk’s claims and stated spam makes up not more than 5 % of its energetic customers. On Tuesday, the corporate sued Mr. Musk to power the acquisition by.

The S.E.C. started investigating Mr. Musk’s actions in April, when the billionaire grew to become Twitter’s largest shareholder. In a securities doc filed on the time, Mr. Musk indicated that his funding can be passive and that he didn’t intend to hunt management of the corporate. However 10 days later, he started an aggressive marketing campaign to amass Twitter.

The S.E.C. questioned whether or not Mr. Musk was really a passive investor, and whether or not he had disclosed his stake on the proper time. The legislation requires shareholders who purchase greater than 5 % of an organization’s shares to reveal their possession inside 10 days of reaching that threshold. In regulatory filings, Mr. Musk has stated he crossed that threshold on March 14 however didn’t make his purchases public till April 4.

The inquiry will not be Mr. Musk’s first brush with the S.E.C. In 2018, the company charged him with securities fraud over a tweet during which he claimed he had secured funding to take Tesla, his electrical automobile firm, non-public. Mr. Musk and Tesla settled the costs for $40 million. Underneath the phrases of the settlement, Mr. Musk should run his tweets by a Tesla lawyer if the messages include materials statements in regards to the carmaker.

A lawyer for Mr. Musk and the S.E.C. didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.