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France to investigate Google, Facebook’s online ad dominance

Staff writer |
France’s competition authority opened an inquiry into possible antitrust issues in the online-advertising market, saying it will examine the market power of Facebook and Google.

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The Autorité de la Concurrence said its inquiry, which it expects to complete next year, will examine the role of the thicket of firms that help advertisers and websites buy and sell ads targeted at people and based on their demographic backgrounds and Web-browsing habits.

The probe will also look at whether some firms, including Facebook and Alphabet’s Google, have dominant positions in the online advertising market, which continues to grow rapidly.

The probe highlights the growing interest by European antitrust regulators in the role played by big Internet companies and the large sets of personal data they collect about individuals. Germany’s competition authority earlier this year opened a probe into whether Facebook abuses its dominance as a social network to get users to give up personal information.

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, is investigating Google’s advertising contracts, after filing two sets of charges against Google for alleged abuses of dominance in other areas.

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