AuthorLueders, Bill

It's time that we told you: The Progressive is suing Google. Yes, that Google, one of the largest and most powerful enterprises on Earth.

Last December, we joined with The Nation and a company called Genius Media Group in taking Google to court over its monopolistic ad sales practices, which work to the detriment of small publishers like us.

Reuters wrote an article about it, and Katrina vanden Heuvel penned an excellent column in The Nation. But the class-action lawsuit, still in its early stages, has not yet gotten the attention it deserves.

The lawsuit complaint filed by lawyers from multiple states alleges that Google has engaged in "unlawful anti-competitive conduct" by "erecting a toll bridge between publishers and advertisers and charging an unlawfully high price for passage." In recent years, it says, Google's U.S. ad revenues have "exploded, approaching nearly $135 billion in 2019, while publisher revenues have plummeted." It reckons that "total damages from Google's unlawful conduct suffered by class members during the class period amount, at the very least, to hundreds of millions of dollars."

We are not suing Google to get a boatload of cash, although we sure could use it; we're suing because what Google is doing is wrong. As the complaint says, "Left unrestrained, Google will monopolize these and the other markets related to the display advertising marketplace, allowing Google's toll on publishers (and advertisers) to continue unabated. Once Google is able to achieve that control, there will be no end to Google's ability to charge publishers monopoly prices, and Google will have obtained power once thought unimaginable--the power to decide which publishers live and which die."

Standing up for fairness has always been integral to The Progressive's mission. It is reflected in the articles we publish and the causes we champion. It is why we have opposed ignorant extremists like Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy and his modern-day counterpart, Ron Johnson. It's why, in 1979, we took on the full might and authority of the U.S. government when it tried to prevent the magazine from publishing an article on H-bomb design.

That case has gotten fresh attention in a new book, Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States, by Alex Wellerstein. The historian relates that officials with the U.S. Department of Energy, in requesting that the magazine cease plans to publish, "anticipated that The Progressive would acquiesce...

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