50 attorneys general probe Google antitrust allegations

Forty-eight U.S. states will investigate Google's alleged antitrust violations, along with Washington, D.C. and U.S. territory Puerto Rico, attorneys general said Monday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Sept. 10 (UPI) — Fifty attorneys general announced Monday a probe into antitrust allegations against Google.

The coalition of 50 attorneys general includes 48 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, leading separate investigations. California and Alabama are not involved.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine are leading the probe, which was announced on the steps of the Supreme Court building Monday afternoon.

The probe will look into the Silicon Valley-based giant’s dominance in online searches and advertising, attorneys said.

“This is a company that dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet and searching the internet as they dominate the buyers’ side, the sellers’ side, the auction side and even the video side with YouTube,” Paxton said.

Paxton added that the investigation will focus initially on advertising and “potential monopolistic activity.”

“If advertising costs are higher, advertisers pay more, and ultimately that’s passed on to consumers,” Paxton said.

With nine out of 10 online searches conducted through Google, critics have said the company prioritizes its subsidiaries in search results.

“When my daughter is sick and I search online for advice or doctors, I want the best ones,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “The best advice or the best doctors — not the ones who spent the most on advertising.”

Google is the largest global digital ad seller, controlling 31 percent of worldwide ad spending, or $103.73 billion, according to eMarketer estimates, with Facebook ranking second with $63.37 billion in net ad revenue.

In addition to the state-led effort, Google and other technology companies are facing multiple investigations at the federal level over antitrust allegations.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has reported revenue last year of $137 billion and income of $31 billion.

On Aug. 30, Alphabet received a request from the Department of Justice for documents related to prior antitrust investigations in the United States and elsewhere following months of increased regulatory scrutiny,” a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission report shows.

“The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions,” Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for Global Affairs and chief legal officer, said in a blog post. “We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so.”

Attorneys general sent their own records request to Google on Monday.


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