Economy

Google hit with 'historic' monopoly abuse investigation

Google hit with 'historic' monopoly abuse investigation

Miller is among 50 attorneys general investigating Google's business practices to determine if the tech giant violated state and federal antitrust laws.

A smaller group of attorneys general, led by Democrat Letitia James of NY, announced a similar probe of Facebook's market power on Friday. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will reportedly lead the Google investigation, which will focus on Google's advertising markets and whether Google's dominance in the ad markets harms competition.

"This adds a whole different level of complexity for both Facebook and Google to deal with because they're dealing with potentially many different investigations, not all of which may be coordinated", said Robert Litan, former Clinton-era deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ's antitrust division.

Announcing the launch of the investigation on Monday, the attorney generals from these states alleged that Internet is not free as a result of some of the practices of Google.

The Justice Department is also probing Google's role in the online advertising market and its search operations, Bloomberg has reported, although it is not joining the state efforts.

The move, described as a preliminary probe of Google's actions in online advertising, highlights the growing complaints about Big Tech dominance and follows a separate investigation into Facebook announced last week by a coalition of U.S. states.

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Google's parent Alphabet said on Friday the Department of Justice in late August requested information and documents related to prior antitrust probes of the company.

Racine said that while they plan to cooperate with the federal agencies, the states won't settle for any course of action "that may fall short" of what they think needs to be done. Investigators want to know more about those policies, why Google instituted them and whether customers ever complain about them. Their early rebukes raised the stakes for Google, threatening top-to-bottom scrutiny of its sprawling business beyond just ads.

"It doesn't take a search engine to understand that unchecked corporate power shouldn't eclipse consumers' rights", said New York State Attorney General Letitia James in a statement.

Becerra's lack of participation in the Google investigation drew condemnation from the other side of the political aisle. Google reportedly refused comment to the Post, aside from saying it would cooperate with the officials in their probe. Facebook trails at No. 2 with more than 22%.

"There is an absolutely existential threat to our virtual marketplace", said Jeff Landry, Louisiana's attorney general. The company reported US$116.3 billion (S$160 billion) in ad revenue a year ago, which was 85 per cent of overall sales.

Throughout the investigation, legal experts from each state will work in cooperation with federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.


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