States Investigating Whether Google's Dominance Hurts Competition

The earlier antitrust investigation into the company by U.S. authorities was wrapped up six years ago without any major penalties, but it will be interesting to see if it will be as lucky this time around.

COLUMBUS, Ohio-Days after joining an anti-trust investigation into Facebook, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Tuesday that he's participating in a similar multi-state investigation into Google's business practices.

The investigation by the Attorneys General will be the first of its kind to address fully the source of Google's sustained market power and the ability to engage in serial and repeated business practices with the intention to protect and maintain that power.

They plan to focus on Google's online advertising and Internet search business.

Several Attorneys General present at the announcement in Washington described the investigation as "preliminary" and said they expected it would expand to cover other issues, including data privacy.

The new probe follows existing investigations at the federal level by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, which are now probing Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon for potential violations of antitrust law.

Another group of 11 state attorneys general - led by New York's Letitia James - has begun their own probe against Facebook, exploring whether it violates competition laws and mishandles consumers' personal information.

"And what we have found is that Google, the giant company Google, is the one that's directing most if not all of the traffic on this highway".

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Karl Racine, the Democratic attorney general for the District of Columbia, said that the state attorneys general would persist in their probe, even if the federal government declines to take action against Google.

Utah AG Sean Reyes said the probe was "for the benefit of the tech ecosystem to help level the playing field".

Google is not alone among big tech firms when it comes to antitrust scrutiny.

Google said in a statement on Friday that it would work constructively with them.

Iowa is one of eight states leading the investigation, along with Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina and Mississippi.

Republican attorney general Jeff Landry of Louisiana called Google's domination "an absolutely existential threat to our virtual marketplace". 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.

President Donald Trump's objections with Google are different. "Let's say we go back before the invention of television".

"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", said Jen King, the director of privacy at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society.

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