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Calls for crackdown on Google ‘dominating’ online ads after report reveals ‘harm to consumers and publishers’

GOOGLE faces greater regulation on its ads business after a report revealed it "dominates" the industry – and "harms" internet users and businesses.

The report by Australia's consumer watchdog calls for new powers to "curb Google".

Google is the world's biggest advertising platform, and claims nearly 30% of global ad spend – rising as high as 70% in Australia, by some measures.

The search engine giant delivers ads on its own websites – including – as well as to other pages.

This includes Google's YouTube, where ads can't typically be skipped.

Now Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission is demanding more powers to limit Google's dominance.

"Google...has lessened competition over time and entrenched its dominant position," the report said.

"Weak competition in the supply of ad tech services can harm Australia advertisers, publishers and consumers."

'At risk'

Google says its advertising business supports more than 15,000 Australian jobs.

The Californian tech titan says it also contributes $2.45billion to the local economy.

But the ACCC report says Google's advertising monopoly puts journalism "at risk".

In many cases, publishers and other advertisers have no practical choice but to use Google's ad services.

Google can also use its own data from websites to better deliver ads in a way that rivals can't.

The report recommends new laws that can specifically target companies like Google based on their "market power".

"The Europeans and the UK are consulting on such laws at the moment," Rod Sims, who chairs Australia's consumer regulator, told Reuters.

"And we're going to try to align with them over the next year.

"I don't think we're far behind."

More powers

The ACCC has asked that the new rules give the watchdog itself specific powers to target Google.

Google is also facing regulation in the US, where the Justice Department is preparing a lawsuit accusing Google of creating an ads monopoly.

"As one of the many advertising technology providers in Australia, we will continue to work collaboratively with industry and regulators to support a healthy ads ecosystem," a Google spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, Google threatened to remove its search engine from Australia.

It was pushing back against a world-leading Australian law forcing apps like Google and Facebook to pay for news that they share.

Google eventually signed deals with a number of news publishers, and ultimately declined to ban search in Australia.

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