State Attorneys General launched the largest, bipartisan antitrust investigation against Google Monday, encompassing nearly every state in the country.
State attorneys general announced Monday that they will begin an antitrust investigation into Google, primarily looking into whether Google’s dominant control of the online search markets and search traffic may have stifled competition, restricted access, and harmed consumers.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton started the conference by noting that the search giant “dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet.”
The investigation includes nearly all state attorneys general– except for California and Alabama. The attorneys general from the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico joined the investigation as well. The probe features Republicans, Democrats, and politicians across the political spectrum.
Google collects more than $48 billion in digital advertising spending annually and captures more than 75 percent of online American searching ads.
Paxton added that Google’s dominance on Internet advertising stretches from all aspects of the online advertising markets.
“They dominate the buyer side, the seller side, the auction side, and the video side with YouTube,” the Texas attorney general charged.
Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry said, “We’re here because there’s an absolutely existential threat to our virtual marketplace.” He went on:
The Internet was once a revolutionizing home for ideas, debate, and content – a place that could benefit countless Louisiana consumers and businesses. However, Google’s dominance of online advertising and searching may have undermined the free market, harmed consumers, and stifled the free flow of thought and information.
Florida Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody said that the Google investigation revolves around Google’s data collection. He explained:
Google monitors our online behavior and captures data on every one of us as we navigate the Internet. This investigation will initially focus on capture of that information and whether Google embedded itself on every level of the online market [for] ad sales to monopolize this industry.
Meanwhile, 11 other attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, started an investigation against Facebook, investigating whether the social media company violated competition laws and abused Americans’ privacy.
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.”
Utah attorney general Sean Reyes said that their investigation is not “anti-tech,” but will “level the playing the field” in the technology marketplace.
Reyes added that the question today is whether Google “strayed” from its “founding principles to not do evil in its search and relentless drive to be the market-dominant player.”
Landry said that Google’s dominance in the digital advertising market could “kill online publishing,” or Google could decide “who stays and who goes.”
Landry asked rhetorically, “How’s that for the fulfillment for the Internet promise for open places, ideas, debate, and content?”