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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

US presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard sues Google for $50 million

The Gabbard campaign has said it was told by Google they wanted to verify billing information and policy compliance, neither of which was a problem.

world Updated: Jul 27, 2019 00:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
Tulsi Gabbard, one of the 20 Democrats running for the party’s 2020 presidential ticket.
Tulsi Gabbard, one of the 20 Democrats running for the party’s 2020 presidential ticket.(AP photo)
         

Tulsi Gabbard, one of the 20 Democrats running for the party’s 2020 presidential ticket, sued Google for $50 million on Thursday alleging the internet search behemoth briefly suspended her campaign ads account at in the hours after the first debate last month when there was a surge in searches about her.

“For hours, Tulsi’s campaign advertising account remained offline while Americans everywhere were searching for information about her,” Gabbard’s campaign said in a statement linking for detail to a news article in the New York Times.

“During this time, Google obfuscated and dissembled with a series of inconsistent and incoherent reasons for its actions. In the end, Google never explained to us why Tulsi’s account was suspended.”

Google told the Times the account was suspended by its automated systems that flag unusual activity — including large spendings — for fraud.

The Gabbard campaign has said it was told by Google they wanted to verify billing information and policy compliance, neither of which was a problem.

These Google ads that appear above results for Tulsi Gabbard searches are used by campaign to collect donations and give more information about the candidates, and they would have had a multiplier effect when there was a surge in people looking her up on the net.

Gabbard, a four-time congresswoman and first Hindu elected to US congress, could have used that surge. She is struggling to get noticed in the race, being dominated currently by former Vice-President Joe Biden and senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, and mayor Pete Buttigieg. Gabbard is placed 11th, polling an average of 1% in the RealClearAggregate of polls.

“Google’s discriminatory actions against my campaign are reflective of how dangerous their complete dominance over internet search is, and how the increasing dominance of big tech companies over our public discourse threatens our core American values,” she said in a speech. “This is a threat to free speech, fair elections and to our democracy, and I intend to fight back on behalf of all Americans.”