Fifty U.S. States and territories, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have launched an anti-trust probe into Google and the company’s “potential monopolistic behavior.” The investigation is being led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton who formally made the announcement on Sept. 9.
The bipartisan probe from attorneys general included nearly every state in the nation, except for California and Alabama. President Donald Trump has increasingly called out Google and other technology companies for suppressing conservative voices. In August, Trump said on Twitter that his administration is “watching Google very closely.”
The new probe follows existing investigations at the federal level by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission which are currently probing Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon for potential violations of antitrust law.
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said at a Washington press conference that the sheer number of attorneys general joining together sends a “strong message to Google.” A Google spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times on the new probe.
According to a press release, the investigation will focus on Google’s “dominance in the telecommunications and search engine industries” as well as the “potential harm” the company may cause to consumers and the economy from any anti-competitive conduct. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has a market value of more than $820 billion and controls many facets of the internet. Google’s dominance in online search and advertising enables it to target millions of consumers for their personal data.
Paxton said at a press conference that states on Sept. 9 formally requested documents from Google on its advertising business. Several of the attorneys general at the announcement in Washington described the investigation as “preliminary” but said they expected it would expand to cover other issues including data privacy.
Alphabet said last week that the Justice Department in late August requested information and documents related to prior antitrust probes of the company. The company added in a securities filing that it expects similar investigative demands from state attorneys general and that it is cooperating with regulators.
In a Sept. 9 statement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said Google’s widening control could be a danger to consumers’ rights.
“Google’s control over nearly every aspect of our lives has placed the company at the center of our digital economy,” she wrote. “But it doesn’t take a search engine to understand that unchecked corporate power shouldn’t eclipse consumers’ rights.”
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