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Google Investigated By 50 State AGs In Antitrust Case

(Image credit: By Sundry Photography / Shutterstock)

Google doesn’t have just the Department of Justice (DOJ) pursuing it in its own antitrust case. The company is now also being investigated by all 50 state attorneys general (AGs) over possible antitrust violations. The news follows another joint antitrust investigation between seven state AGs plus the AG from the District of Columbia against Facebook. 

The bipartisan probe against Google is led by the Texas AG and includes state AGs from 47 other states, as well as from the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The two states that didn’t participate in the probe are California, the home state of Google’s headquarters (as well as many other tech companies) and Alabama, where Google began the construction of a $600 million data center in 2018.

The state AGs said that one of the primary areas of investigations will be Google’s dominance in search, as well as the company’s potential monopolistic behavior. Google has been accused that it unfairly hurts competition and consumers. 

Florida state attorney general Ashley Moody, questioned the privacy trade-off people make when they use Google’s services for free:

"When there is no longer a free market or competition, this increases prices, even when something is marketed as free, and harms consumers. Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy information? Is something really free if online ad prices go up based on one company's control."

State-Level Probe Follow Other Antitrust Investigations

According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, the DOJ has also begun its own antitrust investigation into Google. The FTC staff that investigated Google’s alleged anti-competitive behavior in 2010 recommended antitrust action against the company, but then FTC chairman, Jon Leibowitz, chose to reject that recommendation

At the time, Google’s lobbyists also found easy access to President Obama’s White House, breaking a 40-year precedent in which presidents stayed clear of antitrust investigations.

Google wasn’t so fortunate in the European Union, where the European Commission also started multiple antitrust investigations in the same period of time, involving Google’s alleged anti-competitive behavior in regards to Google Shopping, Android, and Google Ads. These probes recently culminated with three fines totaling almost $10 billion

The EC continues to investigate Google’s anti-competitive behavior in a fourth antitrust investigation, which is related to how Google handles job search in its search engine.

Over the past decade, Google has been one of the biggest political donors in Washington, but this time around, the political environment is much less favorable to Google. Both President Trump and various Democratic presidential candidates have been critical of Google. Elizabeth Warren even suggest she’d look into breaking the company up and splitting off some of the companies Google has acquired such as DoubleClick, Nest, and Waze.

  • jimmysmitty
    Considering that Google owns the largest ad revenue company, the largest media streaming company (YouTube) and is the most used search engine (even with alternatives like DuckDuckGo that remind me of early 2K google) I am all for this. They can easily influence the world with their products and have been shown to allow their biases do so.

    I am all for capitalism but sometimes companies get a tad too big for their own good and they then stop running the system fairly. Sometimes they need a good smack back to reality.
    Reply
  • Geef
    It is fine if Google is split up. Remake google.com into a page with two links.FIRST - Don't care if I'm Tracked by Google and SECOND - Anonymous Google.
    One will track you and only let you see what it wants you to see, like Google is now.
    The other will show you everything without any back-end google software hiding anything.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    FYI, for anyone wanting 'anonymous' google, checkout Startpage.com. It uses google search results, but acts as a proxy so that google can't link the search to you. There is also an "anonymous view" link next to every result, which allows you to also use the startpage proxy when going to the result's webpage.

    The downside (at least for me) is that 'instant answers' don't seem to work as well as with normal google. E.g. if I search for conversions like "USD to CAD" or "lbs to kgs" google will have the direct conversion results at the top of the results, whereas startpage will only have links to conversion sites. Also, in some cases, google's ability to provide the best search results* is at least in part tied to them using your location/profile in their search algorithm, so the results may not be as good when using the startpage proxy.

    *And I do find that Google consistently provides the best results. I've tried switching to other search engines like duckduckgo (yahoo), but unfortunately I found they just weren't as good at finding what I was looking for.
    Reply
  • DotNetMaster777
    I do not understand what is expected to show the Investigation ?
    Reply