50 U.S. states and territories announce an antitrust investigation of Google

Fifty U.S states and territories announced an antitrust investigation into Google on Monday, focusing on the company’s advertising practices and its control over internet search.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the investigation, said that Google “dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet.”

Paxton noted, however, that this was merely an antitrust investigation into the company’s practices, not a lawsuit — at least, not yet.

“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,” Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement announcing the bipartisan investigation. “We intend to closely follow the facts we discover in this case and proceed as necessary.”

Reports of the bipartisan investigation into the company originally surfaced last week. The probe includes the attorneys general from 48 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Google’s home state of California and Alabama are the only U.S. states not involved in the investigation.

We reached out to Google for comment on the antitrust investigation and will update this story if we receive a response.

In July, the Justice Department announced that it would be opening a broad antitrust investigation into the nation’s largest tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.

That investigation is reportedly going to be focused on “whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers,” according to a press release.

“The open internet has delivered enormous benefits to Americans, including a surge of economic opportunity, massive investment, and new pathways for education online,” said House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in June. “But there is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications.”

When asked about the Justice Department’s move earlier this year, a spokesman for Google pointed to part of the testimony by Adam Cohen, the company’s director of economic policy, before the House Judiciary Committee: “In the face of intense competition, we are proud of our record of continued innovation,” Cohen said. “We have helped reduce prices and expand choice for consumers and merchants in the U.S. and around the world. We have created new competition in many sectors, and new competitive pressures often lead to concerns from rivals. We have consistently shown how our business is designed and operated to benefit our customers.”

The investigation into Google comes after another antitrust probe focusing on Facebook  That probe is being led by an attorney from New York with attorneys general from seven states as well as the District of Columbia.

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