Michigan Attorney General joins massive anti-trust investigation into Google

Face with 'Google' projected on

The Monday announcement closely followed one from a separate group of states Friday that disclosed an investigation into Facebook's market dominance.

Scott Morton, the Yale professor, said most states have laws that mimic federal antitrust laws, but it can be harder for state attorneys general to enforce those laws because they don't usually have in-house antitrust experts.

"Pennsylvanians deserve access to an internet where they can watch, read, and share freely", said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Florida attorney general Ashley Moody was also at the announcement.

Google has been accused of creating an "existential threat" to internet retailers with its grip on digital advertising as USA prosecutors announced a competition probe into the company.

The Google investigation focuses on digital advertising, the main way the search giant and parent Alphabet Inc. make money. Just California (Google's home state) and Alabama are uninvolved.

The number of states involved in the investigation is a surprise. But Karl Racine, the Democratic attorney general for Washington, D.C., and a participant in both the Facebook and Google probes, said he and his peers wouldn't hesitate to forge ahead if Washington once again opts against taking action against the tech giants.

Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., has a market value of more than $820 billion and controls so many facets of the internet that it's almost impossible to surf the web for long without running into at least one of its services. 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. "The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions".

Paxton said at a press conference that the states formally requested, on September 9, documents from Google on its advertising business.

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. Regulators also could focus on areas such as Google's popular video site YouTube, an acquisition Google scored in 2006.

"Google's services help people every day, create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country", a Google spokesman said.

"Google is one of America's top spenders on research and development, making investments that spur innovation, " Walker wrote.

Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, has been accused of using unfair tactics with third-party sellers, who must pay for advertising on Amazon to compete against its own first-party and private label sales.

"If Google has gained its advantages in the marketplace through free and fair competition, then let the chips fall where they will", said Hill.

"There's definitely concern on the part of the advertisers themselves that Google wields way too much power in setting rates and favoring their own services over others", King said.



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