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Google investigation: 50 attorneys general look into possible antitrust violations

Google investigation: 50 attorneys general look into possible antitrust violations
[Photo: Paweł Czerwiński/Unsplash]

Fifty attorneys general said today that they’re investigating Google for possible federal and state antitrust violations.

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The announcement by the AGs of 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico was made on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. The two states not participating in the bipartisan probe are Alabama and California.

Representatives for California attorney general Xavier Becerra and Alabama attorney general Steve Marshall could not immediately be reached for comment.

At issue is what Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, who’s leading the investigation, called “overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers.”

On Friday, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, wrote in a blog post that answering questions about this topic is old hat for Google. “The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions,” Walker wrote. “We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so.”

But Paxton pointed to previous Google violations, including three antitrust actions the European Commission has brought against Google to date.

“There is nothing wrong with a business becoming the biggest game in town if it does so through free market competition, but we have seen evidence that Google’s business practices may have undermined consumer choice, stifled innovation, violated users’ privacy, and put Google in control of the flow and dissemination of online information,” he said.

For some of Google’s longtime foes, the probe is a chance to rein in a powerful Silicon Valley giant. Yelp, for example, called news of the probe “heartening.”

It helped create a website called focusontheuser.com to “educate consumers and policy makers about how Google’s conduct directly harms consumers while offering a straightforward remedy,” Luther Lowe, senior vice president for public policy, wrote in a blog post. “Yelp will continue to assist with this investigation in whatever way we can.”

Alphabet’s net income was $9.95 billion in the second quarter, according to the Mountain View, California-headquartered company’s earnings report, released in July.

After the AGs’ announcement, the stock was $1,198.82 in midafternoon trading, down $6.11 or 0.51%.

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