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AGs launch antitrust probe on 'juggernaut' Google

10 September 2019

William Tong is one of 50 attorneys general who have launched an anti-trust investigation into Google.

However, likely due to federal inaction thus far, U.S. state watchdogs are now initiating their own antitrust investigations into Google, specifically probing whether it undermines rivals and harm consumers.

Pennsylvania's Josh Shapiro added, "We're looking into whether Google's business practices have undermined free market competition - and hurt consumers". Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy?

Google's parent company, Alphabet, has a market value of more than $820 billion and past year reported revenue of $137 billion and income of $31 billion. "Google's anticompetitive behavior is a serious problem for our economy and our democracy, and the state attorneys general clearly get that".

According to Reuters, attorneys general from 48 USA states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are joining forces to investigate if Google is playing fair in the advertising industry.

On Friday, New York state Lawyer Basic Letitia James introduced an motion on behalf of seven different states and the District of Columbia to probe "whether or not Fb has stifled competitors and put customers in danger".

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Sarah Miller, deputy director of the Open Markets Institute, called the investigations "historic" and said that they are "an unprecedented bipartisan effort to protect democracy and commerce from two of the most unsafe monopolies on the planet". Influenced by the popularity of the companies' ubiquitous tech products and their significant lobbying power, most American political leaders didn't challenge that view.

That's left many Google critics scratching their heads. Later on, it is expected that other business arms will be infiltrated to find out if there are antitrust practices going on outside ads and consumer searches.

"All very illegal", Trump tweeted on August 6. Although the perceived anti-conservative bias among Google's leadership frequently draws the ire of top Republicans, the antitrust probes do not expressly relate to those concerns.

The vast majority of revenue for Google and its parent company, Alphabet, comes from online ads.

However, its share of the market has declined in recent years, as companies such as Amazon attract more spending.

Google executive Walker emphasized that the company's products help people every day.

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The probe will mainly focus on Google's advertising and search businesses as Paxton accused Google of dominating all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt compared the online advertising market to buying a house, yet Google owned the house and the majority of houses in the country, and it represented both the buyer and seller in the deal.

"Certainly there are questions that need to be raised", said Schmitt, a Republican. Along with D.C., Puerto Rico also joined the investigation.

"The state attorneys general, they are an independent bunch, and they can be quite tenacious", Racine said. "It is important that we determine for our states whether this traffic determination is being done in a fair manner", he said.

The investigation appears to be preliminary, with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton telling reporters that the group had begun to send requests for information to the company.

Szabo also said, however, that he thinks the investigation is unnecessary.

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AGs launch antitrust probe on 'juggernaut' Google