USA states instigate antitrust probe over Google's online advertising dominance

Yolanda Curtis
September 11, 2019

Attorneys general for 50 USA states and territories on Monday officially announced an antitrust investigation of Google, embarking on a wide-ranging review of a tech giant that Democrats and Republicans said may threaten competition, consumers and the continued growth of the web.

California Assemblyman member Jordan Cunnigham (R-San Luis Obispo) expressed disappointment that California's State Attorney Xavier Becerra isn't part of the monopoly probe.

The bipartisan coalition will investigate Google's overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers. That same day, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the investigation, issued the search giant a 29-page investigative demand about its advertising business, according to a report Tuesday by Bloomberg.

Other AGs raised additional complaints, covering everything from the way Google processes and ranks search results to the extent of which it may not fully protect users' personal information.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes stressed that the investigation is preliminary and that "Google is entitled to a presumption of innocence" during the probe. 'Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy information?

Google's parent company, Alphabet, has a market value of more than $820 billion and controls so many facets of the internet that it's fairly impossible to surf the web for long without running into at least one of its services.

Google expects the state authorities will ask the company about past similar investigations in the US and internationally, senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker wrote in a blog post Friday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio-Days after joining an anti-trust investigation into Facebook, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Tuesday that he's participating in a similar multi-state investigation into Google's business practices. "The Department of Justice, for example, has announced that it's starting a review of online platforms", he said in a statement.

The European Commission's competition bureau, which handles antitrust matters for the European Union, has fined Google billions of dollars across three years for antitrust violations.

Google was once viewed positively, as a gateway to the internet, and through the internet, to wherever we wanted to go.

"We are acting as one today in regards to launching what I know will be a fair and full investigation", said District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine. According to her announcement, James has been joined by "the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia". The search giant contributed $US7,300 to his campaign for attorney general previous year, according to data from the California Secretary of State's office.

Historically, the United States has lagged Europe and other countries when it comes to regulating the tech companies.

Google is not alone among big tech firms when it comes to antitrust scrutiny.

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