Half the states in the US reportedly ready to launch Google antitrust investigation

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2019
Google is reportedly the target for an antitrust investigation that will be announced next week, a report claims, with more than half of the state attorneys general in the United States onboard.




A continuation of efforts involving U.S. Attorney General William Barr in July and August, it is reported an investigation for potential antitrust violations by Google will be launched on Monday. The action is believed to involve a majority of state attorneys, possibly more than 30, with a smaller group set to launch the investigation during a Washington press conference.

Three people familiar with the activity advised to the Washington Post of the plans, but warned they may be subject to change. It is also expected to be a bipartisan move by the states, but it remains unclear if similar probes into other major technology firms, such as Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, will be made in due course.

The coordinated investigation follows growing concern by regulators over how powerful tech firms are getting, with their size and control over major elements of online life potentially causing problems for competitors looking to grow. By controlling the platform and app marketplaces, Apple and Google are thought to have a major opportunity to control who wins and who loses in the race for consumer eyeballs.

The handling of massive swathes of consumer data is also a concern, with officials in Louisiana and Mississippi previously criticizing Google over how it handles personal information and its search result algorithms. Texas also has concerns over whether Google is violating consumer protection laws, namely whether political bias at the company is resulting in censorship of conservative viewpoints in results.

"Google's services help people every day, create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country," search engine spokesman Jose Castaneda explained in a statement. "We continue to work constructively with regulators, including attorneys general, in answering questions about our business and the dynamic technology sector."

The looming investigation by the states is not the only worry for tech giants. In July, the Justice Department revealed it was opening up an antitrust review examining Apple, Google, and others over platform ownership and competition, while the Federal Trade Commission has been operating its own antitrust efforts into the tech industry since February.

There is also a Senate bill introduced at the start of August titled the "Monopolization Deterrence Act," which seeks to allow the FTC and DOJ to levy harsher penalties against antitrust law-violating firms. The proposals could theoretically cost as much as 15% of a company's US-based revenue, which for Apple could be almost $40 billion based on 2018's revenue alone.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    Is this a separate investigation in each state or one big one?
    Not being in the US it isn't really clear to me how this all works.
    All I hope is that the right result comes out the other end.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 16
    Is this a separate investigation in each state or one big one?
    Not being in the US it isn't really clear to me how this all works.
    All I hope is that the right result comes out the other end.
    Each state has its own government and generally does its own investigation. Their findings/decisions only affect that state. Although sometimes they team up. It seems like some will team up and do a group investigation in this case.

    This is all separate from the Federal government which can do its own investigation as well.

    A lot of this has to do with next year's elections imo.
    edited September 2019 cornchipmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 16
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,857member
    Is this a separate investigation in each state or one big one?
    Not being in the US it isn't really clear to me how this all works.
    All I hope is that the right result comes out the other end.

    Well it’s the good ol USofA so don’t get too excited (I’m proudly albeit cynically American).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 16
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,472member
    All I know is breaking up AT&T in 1984 was peanuts compared to how hard it will be to break up Google and the others mentioned.
    rweswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 16
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 355member
    It is a waste of government resources (at any level) to pursue Google. If broken up we all will lose a great product and be left with mediocre non-integrated solutions.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,175member
    jimh2 said:
    It is a waste of government resources (at any level) to pursue Google. If broken up we all will lose a great product and be left with mediocre non-integrated solutions.
    In a way Google should welcome the "investigation" as some politicians are trying to convince us that search results are driven by the Google founder's personal political beliefs and conservative viewpoints are buried. Now they would get their chance to prove Google is doing so. 

    As someone else mentioned, this may be purely politics driven. 
    jony0
  • Reply 7 of 16
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,246member
    lkrupp said:
    All I know is breaking up AT&T in 1984 was peanuts compared to how hard it will be to break up Google and the others mentioned.
    Did that AT&T breakup really do anything? In the end, they all merged back together once again
  • Reply 8 of 16
    gatorguy said:
    jimh2 said:
    It is a waste of government resources (at any level) to pursue Google. If broken up we all will lose a great product and be left with mediocre non-integrated solutions.
    In a way Google should welcome the "investigation" as some politicians are trying to convince us that search results are driven by the Google founder's personal political beliefs and conservative viewpoints are buried. Now they would get their chance to prove Google is doing so. 

    As someone else mentioned, this may be purely politics driven. 
    It’s not “purely politics driven” in the sense the “Republicans are going after Google”.  That’s certainly the case with U.S. Attorney General William Barr, and most of the Republican controlled Congress.  By, this also includes the state attorneys which come from both political parties.

    It is “purely politics driven” in the sense that the U.S Government is worried.  The central government government has been in a power grab for the last 100+ years to the detriment of the states.  Some good, and some bad has resulted from that... But, in this case the philosophy is “only we can create monopolies”.  

    Google is a threat because they’re a self made monopoly and they have growing influence.  They have the influence and cash to lobby, or flat out buy politicians.  Google also has the power to influence elections, if they choose to do so (ads, new, etc).

    For decades it’s been billionaires buying elections by backing candidates directly, and though $$$ spent  TV and radio ads.  These billionaires have to be worried.  The internet billionaires can easily crush them in $$$’s spent.  The vast majority of politicians have been bought with “old” money so naturally they’re worried.

    Maybe 1% of this effort is about “protecting consumers” but that’s what the politicians will tell you it’s about.

    I do wonder if a representative democracy can exist in the internet age... We should probably consider ourself a capitalist democracy.  If you have money you have a vote, or you can buy as many votes (as you want) as long as you’re willing to spend.

    Example: (doesn’t include the dark money)
    Campaign Finance Numbers
    The amount spent on the presidential race alone was $2.4 billion, and over $1 billion of that was spent by the campaigns of the two major candidates: Barack Obama spent $730 million in his election campaign, and John McCain spent $333 million.

    You can almost always determine who’s going to win the The money spent.  The problem is figuring out what is actually spent...
    President Trump may be the exception (I’m not sure he actually intended to get elected) but the money spent was more intelligently spent with internet companies, so he won.
    dewmeviclauyyc
  • Reply 9 of 16
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,273member
    gatorguy said:
    jimh2 said:
    It is a waste of government resources (at any level) to pursue Google. If broken up we all will lose a great product and be left with mediocre non-integrated solutions.
    In a way Google should welcome the "investigation" as some politicians are trying to convince us that search results are driven by the Google founder's personal political beliefs and conservative viewpoints are buried. Now they would get their chance to prove Google is doing so. 

    As someone else mentioned, this may be purely politics driven. 
    It’s not “purely politics driven” in the sense the “Republicans are going after Google”.  That’s certainly the case with U.S. Attorney General William Barr, and most of the Republican controlled Congress.  By, this also includes the state attorneys which come from both political parties.

    It is “purely politics driven” in the sense that the U.S Government is worried.  The central government government has been in a power grab for the last 100+ years to the detriment of the states.  Some good, and some bad has resulted from that... But, in this case the philosophy is “only we can create monopolies”.  

    Google is a threat because they’re a self made monopoly and they have growing influence.  They have the influence and cash to lobby, or flat out buy politicians.  Google also has the power to influence elections, if they choose to do so (ads, new, etc).

    For decades it’s been billionaires buying elections by backing candidates directly, and though $$$ spent  TV and radio ads.  These billionaires have to be worried.  The internet billionaires can easily crush them in $$$’s spent.  The vast majority of politicians have been bought with “old” money so naturally they’re worried.

    Maybe 1% of this effort is about “protecting consumers” but that’s what the politicians will tell you it’s about.

    I do wonder if a representative democracy can exist in the internet age... We should probably consider ourself a capitalist democracy.  If you have money you have a vote, or you can buy as many votes (as you want) as long as you’re willing to spend.

    Example: (doesn’t include the dark money)
    Campaign Finance Numbers
    The amount spent on the presidential race alone was $2.4 billion, and over $1 billion of that was spent by the campaigns of the two major candidates: Barack Obama spent $730 million in his election campaign, and John McCain spent $333 million.

    You can almost always determine who’s going to win the The money spent.  The problem is figuring out what is actually spent...
    President Trump may be the exception (I’m not sure he actually intended to get elected) but the money spent was more intelligently spent with internet companies, so he won.
    The biggest problem with Google is they control the conversation when it benefits them. This is why articles negative articles about Apple rate high in search results, but you have to search very specifically to find anything about Google that’s not glowing. 
    lkrupplolliverkestralMacProwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 16
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,827member

    It is “purely politics driven” in the sense that the U.S Government is worried.  The central government government has been in a power grab for the last 100+ years to the detriment of the states.  Some good, and some bad has resulted from that... But, in this case the philosophy is “only we can create monopolies”.  
    You hit the nail right on the head there. There’s a related operational directive that only the government, or more specifically one man, can save us from the “bad guys” - even if they have to manufacture or somehow fabricate from the ether or ingrained biases the “bad guys” to save us from. The only question is: if only the government, or pseudo king as it may be, can save us from the bad guys, who is going to save us if the pseudo king is the bad guy? We may not agree with everything the tech giants like Google do, but for the most part they operate with a degree of transparency that the government and wannabe kings could never tolerate.
    viclauyycmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 16
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,472member
    jbdragon said:
    lkrupp said:
    All I know is breaking up AT&T in 1984 was peanuts compared to how hard it will be to break up Google and the others mentioned.
    Did that AT&T breakup really do anything? In the end, they all merged back together once again
    Exactly.
  • Reply 12 of 16
    payecopayeco Posts: 449member
    jbdragon said:
    lkrupp said:
    All I know is breaking up AT&T in 1984 was peanuts compared to how hard it will be to break up Google and the others mentioned.
    Did that AT&T breakup really do anything? In the end, they all merged back together once again
    Back when they were broken up the only option for voice was a single company. Now you can get voice from the phone company, the cable company, or a cellular company.
    lolliverkestral
  • Reply 13 of 16
    Mississippi's AG has had it out for Google for years.

    I'm not saying Google doesn't need reining in some, but AG Hood does seem like he has an axe to grind.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170118/17262236516/google-hating-mississippi-attorney-general-sues-company-with-ammo-eff.shtml

    edited September 2019 gatorguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 16
    gatorguy said:
    jimh2 said:
    It is a waste of government resources (at any level) to pursue Google. If broken up we all will lose a great product and be left with mediocre non-integrated solutions.
    In a way Google should welcome the "investigation" as some politicians are trying to convince us that search results are driven by the Google founder's personal political beliefs and conservative viewpoints are buried. Now they would get their chance to prove Google is doing so. 

    As someone else mentioned, this may be purely politics driven. 
    Wow. You actually think that Google search results are not politically driven?! How many leaks, video evidence, company documents, de-platforming stats, does it need to convince you? Blinkered.
    lolliverviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 16
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,175member
    gatorguy said:
    jimh2 said:
    It is a waste of government resources (at any level) to pursue Google. If broken up we all will lose a great product and be left with mediocre non-integrated solutions.
    In a way Google should welcome the "investigation" as some politicians are trying to convince us that search results are driven by the Google founder's personal political beliefs and conservative viewpoints are buried. Now they would get their chance to prove Google is doing so. 

    As someone else mentioned, this may be purely politics driven. 
    Wow. You actually think that Google search results are not politically driven?! How many leaks, video evidence, company documents, de-platforming stats, does it need to convince you? Blinkered.
    I think I was pretty clear that it would the the AG's arguments to make and their accusations to prove. It's it's provable then Google is guilty. That's Monstrosity's preferred reading sources claims it's so is irrelevant, at least in a legal sense. Opinions are always out there, some fringe, some completely silly, and some spot on. Those are somewhat beyond Google's control as their PR machine sucks so badly IMHO. 
  • Reply 16 of 16
    I have to agree with Gator on this one.  I am far from a Alphabet fan but it seems like FaceBook is the more concerning actor.  Smart phones, cloud services, shopping and search are not monopolies under the sole control Alphabet.  YouTube is maybe the exception.

    But Facebook and Instagram have such a reach in the world, with repeated bad behavior and no seeming capacity to change.

    And don’t get me started about the Amazonopus.

    As a result, I wonder if the choice of Alphabet is politically motivated.
    watto_cobra
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