Yesterday, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA7) and Mondaire Jones (D-NY17) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, Nicholas Ganjei, requesting the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division investigate the possibility that the companies violated the Sherman Act.
The letter states that an agreement between the two companies- “a secret deal with deeply troubling antitrust implications” nicknamed “Jedi Blue”- came to light earlier this year in the course of an antitrust investigation brought by Texas and other states. The agreement apparently “guaranteed that Facebook would win a fixed percentage of advertising bids on Google’s platform in exchange for Facebook’s ‘bowing out of . . . technology that threatened Google’s ad display dominance.’”2021.08.30-Letter-re-Jedi-Blue-
The letter comes just as Bloomberg reports that the “Justice Department has accelerated its investigation of Google’s digital advertising practices and may file a lawsuit as soon as the end of the year,” according to an unnamed source, while the Federal Trade Commission released an amended complaint against Facebook for anti-competitive practices on August 19th, 2021.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.