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Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Google confirmed Sunday that it removed some InterActive Corp. browser extensions from the Chrome Web Store, following a report that Google thought some of these extensions may entail deceptive marketing.

Why it matters: IAC both relies on Google and competes heavily with the search giant, which the Wall Street Journal report said is now weighing "severe penalties" against the smaller company. Plus, the dispute comes amid heightened antitrust scrutiny for Google, including a suit from the Justice Department.

Driving the news: Per the Journal report, a Google audit found IAC, which owns a large portfolio of web properties from video platform Vimeo to finance site Investopedia, advertising against Google searches for voting information and other terms.

  • If users clicked on the ads, IAC would reset their Chrome homepages its own Google-powered search engine MyWay and install a browser bar for Ask.com, a separate IAC search property.

Of note: The Journal report says that Google has yet to take stronger action in part because it worries that doing so would raise further antitrust concerns.

What they're saying: A Google spokesperson confirmed the takedowns and added in a statement, "We're reviewing [IAC’s] remaining extensions and our enforcement options, and have not made a decision regarding IAC's status on the store."

  • "Google has used their position to reduce our browser business to the last small corner of the internet, which they're now seeking to quash," IAC countered in its own statement.

Go deeper

The deplatforming fight shifts to the courts

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Capitol riot and tech firms' sweeping attempt in its wake to dislodge the online far right are kicking up efforts to have the courts settle knotty questions about online speech and power.

Why it matters: Legal battles could force the people angry at Big Tech to bring more rigor to arguments that have often devolved into messy sideshows.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."