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U.S. states file updated antitrust complaint against Alphabet's Google

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The logo of Google is seen in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - A group of U.S. states led by Texas have filed an amended complaint against Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google accusing the tech giant of using coercive tactics and breaking antitrust laws in its efforts to boost its already dominant advertising business.

The updated allegations are the latest in an onslaught of regulatory scrutiny of Google over its practices. The tech company faces several lawsuits, including one by the Justice Department for monopolistic practices. read more

Earlier this week, Google lost an appeal against a $2.8 billion European Union antitrust decision. read more

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The amended U.S. lawsuit, filed in a federal court in New York late Friday, accuses Google of using monopolistic and coercive tactics with advertisers in its efforts to dominate and drive out competition in online advertising.

The lawsuit also highlights Google's use of a secret program dubbed "Project Bernanke" in 2013 that used bidding data to give its own ad-buying an advantage. For example, in a 2015 iteration of the program, Google allegedly dropped the second-highest bids from publishers' auctions, accumulated money into a pool and then spent that money to inflate only the bids belonging advertisers who used the company's Google Ads. They otherwise would have likely lost the auctions, the states alleged.

A Google spokesperson said the lawsuit mischaracterizes one of the improvements the firm has made to optimize advertisers' bids.

"Just because (Texas) Attorney General (Ken) Paxton asserts something doesn’t make it true. This lawsuit is riddled with inaccuracies," the statement said.

The Texas attorney general's office did not response to requests for comment on the lawsuit.

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Reporting by Chris Prentice Additional reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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