Google Targeted By 50 U.S. AGs In Potential Sweeping Antitrust Investigation

South Dakota joining nationwide investigation of Google

Google is the target of a new antitrust investigation by 50 attorneys general [Update: Google statement]

A coalition of attorneys general representing 50 U.S. states and territories today announced a long-awaited joint probe into antitrust complaints against one of the biggest tech companies in the world, Google.

Only two state attorneys general aren't taking part in the multi-state antitrust investigation of Google and one of them just happens to be the head of law enforcement in the company's home state.

The bipartisan effort is being led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is joined by 50 additional attorneys general representing 48 USA states, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

He said there's nothing wrong with Google being the dominant search player if it's done fairly, but the investigation will look into whether Google crosses the line "between aggressive business practices and illegal ones".

There are also concerns about bias in the way the company processes and ranks search results and the way it handles personal information. Nessel said the probe will ensure Americans have access to free and open digital markets. 'Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy information? "Is something really free if online ad prices go up based on one company's control".

The Obama Justice Department investigated Google for possible antitrust violations.

"We have answered many questions on these issues over many years, in the United States as well as overseas, across many aspects of our business, so this is not new for us", Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs for Google, wrote in a recent blog post.

Last week, when news broke of the coordinated investigation, Google told ZDNet in a statement that it will continue to work with regulators and attorneys general in their inquiries.

The announcement followed a similar but separate probe from 11 state Attorneys General into Facebook's practices.

Sen. Diane Feinstein did not hold back when questioning representatives of Google, Facebook and Twitter on November 1. Regulators around the world, meanwhile, have been more skeptical of Google: The European Union has issued the company $9 billion in competition-related fines over the past three years.

According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, the DOJ has also begun its own antitrust investigation into Google.

Ashley Moody, the Republican attorney general of Florida, said the states' Google probe starts with the company's vast data stores. A U.S. House subcommittee is also conducting a "top-to-bottom" review of how tech giants affect things like consumer privacy, local journalism and the ability of new startup companies to grow.

"It's wonderful that they have 50 AGs that are part of the multi-state investigation", said Charlotte Slaiman, a senior policy counsel for consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.

"We are acting as one today, in regards to launching what I know will be a full and fair investigation", he said.

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