USA states launch antitrust probe of Google, advertising in focus

Face with 'Google' projected on

USA states launch antitrust probe of Google, advertising in focus

For Google, the state and federal probes come more than six years after the FTC wrapped up an antitrust investigation into search and advertising and opted against major penalties against the company, including breaking it up.

"I'm proud to stand with my colleague Attorneys General today to announce that we are holding Google accountable for that responsibility and launching an investigation into whether their business practices have undermined free market competition and hurt consumers".

"If Google has gained its advantages in the marketplace through free and fair competition, then let the chips fall where they will", said Hill.

"When my daughter is sick and I search online for advice or doctors, I want the best advice from the best doctors not the ones - not the doctor and not the clinic - who can spend the most on advertising", Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said. Paxton calls this part of the investigation as "preliminary" and expects it to expand into other segments, such as data privacy, as well.

"Right now it's about advertising, but the facts will lead where they lead".

The U.S. Justice Department opened a sweeping investigation of big tech companies this summer, looking at whether their online platforms have hurt competition, suppressed innovation or otherwise harmed consumers.

Separately last week, New York AG Letitia James said she was leading a bipartisan group of state AGs to probe antitrust concerns around Facebook.

"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".

According to research firm eMarketer, Google leads the USA digital ad market with a 37.2 percent share worth some $48 billion this year and is expected to control 20 percent of all USA ad spending, online and offline combined.

Utah attorney general Sean Reyes said that their investigation is not "anti-tech", but will "level the playing the field" in the technology marketplace.

The investigation is the latest in a long series of high-profile probes into the way the company conducts its business, which has often come under the scanner of public regulators and anti-monopoly activists, not to mention various privacy watchdogs from around the world.

The sheer size of the investigating group, which includes every state except California and Alabama, poses a threat to Google.

Given Google's absolute dominant position in search, and advertising, an antitrust case wasn't exactly unexpected.

Asked why California has not joined the states pursuing the investigation, a spokesperson for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state is committed to fighting anti-competitive behavior. Washington is home to two of America's largest tech companies, Amazon and Microsoft.

"Google's services help people every day, create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country", a Google spokesman said. "We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so".

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