Forty-eight US states announce extensive antitrust probe of internet search giant Google

Meanwhile, a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general is also probing Facebook over possible antitrust violations

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 10, 2019 10:02AM (EDT)


Google, the technology giant that dominates search and other online products, faces an extensive bipartisan antitrust investigation supported by all but two U.S. states.

A coalition of fifty states and U.S. territories announced the probe against Google, a company which Texas' Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton says "dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet and searching on the internet," on Monday, according to the Washington Post.

Paxton claims that Google has managed to "dominate the buyer side, the seller side, the auction side and the video side with YouTube." However, the initial focus of the investigation will focus on online advertising, where the company dominates with 75 percent of all spending on U.S. search ads.

Sean Reyes, the Republican attorney general of Utah, added that "there’s nothing wrong with being a dominant player — when it’s done fairly."

Karl Racine, the Democratic attorney general for the District of Columbia, said that the state attorneys general would persist in their probe, even if the federal government declines to take action against Google.

“The state attorneys general, they are an independent bunch, and they can be quite tenacious," Racine said. "So I’m very confident that this bipartisan group is going to be led by the facts, and not be swayed by any conclusion that may fall short, if you will, if it’s inconsistent with our facts on the [federal] side."

The only two states not participating in the investigation are Alabama and California. Google reportedly refused comment to the Post, aside from saying it would cooperate with the officials in their probe.

The announcement comes on the heels of a similar development Friday, when New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, revealed that she was leading a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in a probe of Facebook over possible antitrust violations. According to her announcement, James has been joined by "the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia."

"Even the largest social media platform in the world must follow the law and respect consumers," James said in a statement. "I am proud to be leading a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in investigating whether Facebook has stifled competition and put users at risk. We will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions may have endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices or increased the price of advertising."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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