Attorney General Investigates Google

The lead attorney-general said it will focus on Google’s overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic

The attorney general's comments come after all 50 US states and territories, led by Texas, announced an investigation into Google's "potential monopolistic behavior".

The probe is being backed by 48 states - with only California and Alabama absent - and joined by Puerto Rico and the federal District of Columbia, and officials stopped short of calling for any specific remedies such as a breakup - which some Google critics have called for.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told reporters at a news conference here that Google dominates all aspects of advertising and searching on the Internet as they dominate the buyer side, the seller, the auction and even the video with YouTube.

The probe will focus on whether Google has harmed competition and consumers, looking at least initially into the company's conduct in its search, advertising and other businesses, though it may expand from there.

They also raised concerns over the way Google ranks its search results and protects users' personal data.

A separate group of eight state attorneys general, led by NY, joined by the District of Columbia, announced on Friday it was investigating Facebook. Legal experts from each state will work in cooperation with Federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets. "Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy information?" "This investigation will initially focus on capture of that information and whether Google embedded itself on every level of the online market [for] ad sales to monopolize this industry".

The states' investigation arrives as the Department of Justice and FTC also are scrutinizing Big Tech, and DOJ has taken early interest in Google.

Reached for comment, Google only pointed to a blog post it issued last week written by Senior Vice President of Global Affairs Kent Walker.

A Wall Street Journal report suggested that New York Attorney General Letitia James will lead the investigation into Facebook. "Google monitors our behaviors and captures data on all of us as we navigate the internet".

Attorney General Paxton clarified that this investigation is not a lawsuit but a probe to determine the facts. Facebook, Amazon, and Apple have also drawn scrutiny from competition regulators.

Europe's antitrust regulators slapped Google with a $1.7 billion fine in March for unfairly inserting exclusivity clauses into contracts with advertisers, disadvantaging rivals in the online ad business. The search giant contributed $US7,300 to his campaign for attorney general a year ago, according to data from the California Secretary of State's office.

"It's fantastic that they have 50 AGs that are part of the multi-state investigation", said Charlotte Slaiman, a senior policy counsel for consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Big tech companies have long rebuffed attempts by the USA federal government to scrutinize or scale back their market power.



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