Almost Every State Except California Is Coming After Google In Antitrust Action

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill speaking about the probe with other attorney generals

Enlarge Image Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill speaking about the probe with other attorney generals. Getty Images

Google is facing an anti-trust investigation by 48 USA states for alleged monopolistic behavior.

A separate group of eight state attorneys general, led by NY, joined by the District of Columbia, announced on Friday it was investigating Facebook Inc.

Yost and 49 other attorneys general will look into Google's "overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers", the Columbus Republican's office said in a release. The company dominates the market with its search business, its ownership of Adsense, which sells ads, and in videos ads through YouTube, which Google also owns.

The attorneys-general said Google search results are skewed towards its own products and those of advertisers rather than the best information. According to Texas AG Ken Paxton, the leader of the investigation, the inquiry will focus on Google's advertising business, but it could expand depending on what they find.

The probe is the latest sign of the rapidly expanding antitrust investigations confronting Google along with other giant USA tech firms.

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

An MPAA spokesman declined comment on the latest investigation, but its chairman, Charles Rivkin, previously has seized on the increased scrutiny of Facebook and Google in calling for greater "platform accountability". Google disclosed on Friday that the department had issued civil investigative demands, which are akin to subpoenas, for all documents in prior antitrust probes.

Sen. Diane Feinstein did not hold back when questioning representatives of Google, Facebook and Twitter on November 1.

Meanwhile, the European Union has issued $9 billion in antitrust-related fines in the past three years.

"When a company becomes a verb, it may seem as though the states are David taking on Goliath but I am proud to stand tall with my fellow attorneys general", Rutledge said. Barr and state attorneys general are seeking to answer these questions.

The investigation is the latest sign of the rapidly expanding antitrust investigations confronting Google along with other giant US technology companies.

She noted the Trump administration's unsuccessful push to use antitrust law to block AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, which owns CNN, a frequent target of Trump's criticism; and Friday's announcement that federal antitrust enforcers would investigate automakers that worked with California on tougher emissions limits.

The latest probes come on top of a review launched earlier this year by federal regulators of major online platforms to determine if they have "stifled" innovation or reduced competition.

"We are acting as one today, in regards to launching what I know will be a full and fair investigation", he said.

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