Saturday, 28 March, 2020


U.S. states instigate antitrust probe over Google's online advertising dominance

Face with 'Google' projected on U.S. states instigate antitrust probe over Google's online advertising dominance
Melba Vasquez | 10 September, 2019, 20:16

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), a former Missouri state attorney general, said during a press conference call that the antitrust investigation was "very significant" "for those who believe in holding the big tech companies accountable".

On Monday, Reyes and Racine joined forces again - this time flanked by almost a dozen mostly Republican state attorneys general on the steps of the Supreme Court and dozens more from both parties who signed onto the formal investigation.

He said there's nothing wrong with Google being the dominant search player if it's done fairly, but the investigation will look into whether Google crosses the line "between aggressive business practices and illegal ones". The initial focus of the joint probe, according to Paxton, will be on the company's online advertising business. "If, however, the facts uncovered in this investigation lead us to other conclusions, then we must pursue appropriate follow-up actions to protect the free market".

The Federal U.S. Justice Department has yet to formally launch its rumored investigation into Google.

And attorneys general of NY and several other states announced last week they were investigating Facebook.

US President Donald Trump has also accused social media firms and Google of suppressing conservative voices online, but has not presented any evidence for his views.

Utah AG Sean Reyes said the probe was "for the benefit of the tech ecosystem to help level the playing field". Yost noted that about 85 percent of Google's $136.2 billion in revenue previous year came from advertising. "Google's anticompetitive behavior is a serious problem for our economy and our democracy, and the state attorneys general clearly get that".

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

The investigation, which lacks the participation of California and Alabama, is probing concerns that publishers and advertisers have little choice but to advertise with Google.

Google declined to comment, pointing to its previous statements saying it will work with state officials.

Alphabet said September 6 that the Justice Department in late August requested information and documents related to prior antitrust probes of the company.

"We certainly want to make sure that the Internet has competition, and more importantly, we want to make sure that we are preserving innovation", Hill said. The $5 billion penalty against Facebook is the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers' privacy and nearly 20 times greater than the largest privacy or data security penalty ever imposed worldwide.

Attorney General Paxton clarified that this investigation is not a lawsuit but a probe to determine the facts.

In 2016, Epstein conducted a secret monitoring project that showed that Google hid negative auto-complete search results for Hillary Clinton months before the presidential election.

One outcome antitrust regulators might explore is forcing Google to spin off search as a separate company, experts say.

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