In a US Senate antitrust panel hearing on Tuesday, senators grilled a Google executive over the company's dominance in the online ad market, questioning whether the firm had misused its power to drive profits.
The hearing came more than a month after US Congress House Antitrust Subcommittee held an exhaustive hearing in July with the chief executives of Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon in an effort to find out whether they were abusing their powers to snuff-out competition in the market.
It also comes at the time when the US Justice Department is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google in coming weeks.
Tuesday's hearing focused primarily on Google's influence on rivals in the digital ad market, according to Reuters.
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), the chair of the Committee's antitrust panel, opened the hearing by questioning Google executive Donald Harrison about the firm's alleged censorship of a conservative news outlet.
Lee also said that there are complaints against Google that the company has rigged or manipulated its digital ad technologies and auctions to favour its own interest.
Google's critics have long complained that the firm uses search to advertise its mapping, shopping, and other services rather than displaying neutral responses.
Other members of the panels also raised concerns over complaints that that Google was not transparent about where its ad revenues go, specifically how much money goes to publishers and how much to the company.
Responding to senator's questions, Harrison said that Google's ad business faces plenty of competition from Amazon, Facebook, AT&T, Comcast and other rivals, and that the company's ad ecosystem has helped customers, while keeping prices low for advertisers and publishers.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) pressed Harrison on Google's purchase of advertising firm DoubleClick in 2007, as well as its proposed merger with fitness tracking firm Fitbit, which is currently under review by regulators.
Harrison said that Google has no plans to mix users' healthcare data with advertising data to show personalised ads to people.
"This deal is about devices," he said. "It is about health care and not about ads."
In US Congress House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing in July, Google CEO Sundar Pichai had said that the company conducts itself to the "highest standards".
In the past year, all the major tech companies have faced rising levels of criticism from lawmakers, as well as the public, over various issues, including their market dominance and handling of users' data.
In July 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission imposed a fine of $5 billion on Facebook over the sharing of user data with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
Also last year, a group of Alphabet's shareholders also urged the firm to split itself into separate companies before regulators force it to do that. The proposal was, however, rejected by the company.
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