Google target of antitrust probe by 50 state attorneys general

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A group of 50 state attorneys general has commenced an antitrust probe into Google, examining whether the search giant is engaging in anti-competitive practices with regards to how it provides advertising services online.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies in front of a U.S. congressional panel in 2018.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies in front of a U.S. congressional panel in 2018.


Initially reported on Wednesday as being in the works, the announcement has grown the number of attorneys general from more than 30 to 50, consisting of 48 states excluding Alabama and California, as well as representatives of Washington DC and Puerto Rico.

Revealed on Monday, the group is being headed up by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, reports Business Insider. While the investigation may spread to other high-competition areas of Google, the initial activity will center on advertising.

"This is a company that dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet and searching on the internet, as they dominate the buyer side, the seller side, the auction side, and even the video side with YouTube," claims Paxton. "This investigation is not a lawsuit. It is an investigation to determine the facts. Right now we're looking at advertising, but the facts will lead where the facts will lead."

Google has already been contacted by the group over the probe.

It is unclear what penalties Google could face if the investigation deems the search company has been anticompetitive, with District of Columbia attorney general Karl Racine saying it was too early to tell.

While only applying to the FTC and DOJ, the "Monopolization Deterrence Act" introduced to the Senate at the start of August hints at lawmakers being keen to levy harsher penalties against firms engaging in antitrust behavior. If passed, companies could face a fine as much as 15% of its US-based revenue, which as an example, would be in the region of $40 billion for Apple based on its 2018 revenue.

The coordinated investigation is the latest move by regulators and lawmakers to try and limit the amount of control major tech companies can have over the rest of the industry. The size and power of the firms has put Google, Apple, Facebook, and others in the firing line for similar probes by other regulators.

In July, it was revealed by the Justice Department it was opening up an antitrust review of Apple, Google, and others over platform ownership and competition. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission has been operating its own antitrust efforts since February.

On Friday, Google parent company Alphabet confirmed it was the subject of a DOJ antitrust investigation.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 533member
    By deciding to determine that facts first, this is similar to a grand jury investigation, where the focus is on discovery.  While many observers have predetermined their facts, I’m hopeful that once everything is laid out, a clearer picture will emerge of Google’s adherence or non-adherence to the law.  This seems to be a fair and reasonable response.

    I would hope that when the focus turns to Apple, and it will, all evidence and context will come to the fore so that a balanced picture emerges.
    cat52chasm
  • Reply 2 of 16
    I'm sure it's no big deal...Guam and Puerto Rico haven't even mentioned it.
    cornchipJapheycat52
  • Reply 3 of 16
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 172member
    We the people are the only ones who will lose out if Google is fined, regulated or worse split up. Should there be fines we will never benefit, much like the tobacco settlement. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 4 of 16
    jimh2 said:
    We the people are the only ones who will lose out if Google is fined, regulated or worse split up. Should there be fines we will never benefit, much like the tobacco settlement. 
    Care to explain your rationale for your claim?
    ArloTimetravelertmay
  • Reply 5 of 16
    Uh oh, guess who's next?
    Carnage
  • Reply 6 of 16
    Microsoft was "split up"20 years ago, it's still around and probably a better business for it. Apple was the biggest winner from the M$ breakup I'm sure I don't need to explain how. 
  • Reply 7 of 16
    13485 said:
    I'm sure it's no big deal...Guam and Puerto Rico haven't even mentioned it.
    Don't forget the Northern Mariana Islands. 
    cat52cornchip
  • Reply 8 of 16
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,944member
    spice-boy said:
    Microsoft was "split up"20 years ago, it's still around and probably a better business for it. Apple was the biggest winner from the M$ breakup I'm sure I don't need to explain how. 
    Microsoft was never split up.

    There was a Judicial decision to do so but MS appealed it.

    "The DOJ announced on September 6, 2001 that it was no longer seeking to break up Microsoft and would instead seek a lesser antitrust penalty. Microsoft decided to draft a settlement proposal allowing PC manufacturers to adopt non-Microsoft software,"

    That being the case, Apple wasn't in fact the "biggest winner" from the M$ breakup, because the breakup never happened. Apple did benefit from negotiations with MS that included support for Office for a period of five years, and a token investment of $150 M, which ended up being a very good investment for MS.
    edited September 9 cat52cornchippscooter63chasmmuthuk_vanalingamCarnagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 16
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,011member
    jimh2 said:
    We the people are the only ones who will lose out if Google is fined, regulated or worse split up. Should there be fines we will never benefit, much like the tobacco settlement. 

    There’s no reason anyone would suffer if Google was split up. All of their products are basically disparate products already as they’re readily available across multiple platforms and devices...i.e. Google services exist outside of Android and Chrome. And Android and Chrome are available outside of Google devices.
    tmaykestralCarnagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 16
    Sounds like more freeloaders looking for a payday. Google search hasn’t been in any of my browsers for years. DuckDuckGo, baby. Google is big, but they’re no monopoly because people CHOOSE to use them.
    edited September 9 pscooter63Carnagemobirdwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 16
    Break them up and scatter them to the winds.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 16
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,667member
    Sounds like more freeloaders looking for a payday. Google search hasn’t been in any of my browsers for years. DuckDuckGo, baby. Google is big, but they’re no monopoly because people CHOOSE to use them.
    Being a monopoly isn't illegal. Being the most popular doesn't make you a monopoly, either. Evidence of abusing your monopoly is what gets big companies in trouble. Google has been found guilty of this in other courts and countries a number of times already, so it makes sense to have an investigation as pertains to any similar actions by the company in the US. At this point, this is really more like an "inquiry" (UK/Commonwealth term).

    I'm very glad you are using DuckDuckGo. They rock.
    edited September 10 rotateleftbytewatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 16
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,157member
    Sounds like more freeloaders looking for a payday. Google search hasn’t been in any of my browsers for years. DuckDuckGo, baby. Google is big, but they’re no monopoly because people CHOOSE to use them.
    I have to agree. There’s a strange phenomenon with humans in that they celebrate success, but only to a point. If you become “too successful,” based on a criteria that I can never understand, they want to knock you down. In the case of big tech companies the people calling for a takedown are so utterly clueless about the scalability and exponential growth that can occur in the Internet Age with pervasive connectivity. They view massive success, compared to historical benchmarks, as some sort of black magic that their feeble and backward looking minds and perspectives simply cannot handle. They react by treating it as a threat to their tenuous power structure, questionable manliness, and delicate egos and try to kill it to maintain their dinosaur dominance. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 16
    tmay said:
    spice-boy said:
    Microsoft was "split up"20 years ago, it's still around and probably a better business for it. Apple was the biggest winner from the M$ breakup I'm sure I don't need to explain how. 
    Microsoft was never split up.

    There was a Judicial decision to do so but MS appealed it.

    "The DOJ announced on September 6, 2001 that it was no longer seeking to break up Microsoft and would instead seek a lesser antitrust penalty. Microsoft decided to draft a settlement proposal allowing PC manufacturers to adopt non-Microsoft software,"

    That being the case, Apple wasn't in fact the "biggest winner" from the M$ breakup, because the breakup never happened. Apple did benefit from negotiations with MS that included support for Office for a period of five years, and a token investment of $150 M, which ended up being a very good investment for MS.
    The future of the internet was obvious at that time locked to browers, 97% give or take of PCs used MS Explorer. Apple would never have gotten anywhere with the iMac if MS still had a choke hold on the internet=browser. All websites needed to be coded for Explorer to function, the first real modern Mac browser was Explorer, Gates had to provide this to stop the Feds from coming back. 
  • Reply 15 of 16
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,944member
    spice-boy said:
    tmay said:
    spice-boy said:
    Microsoft was "split up"20 years ago, it's still around and probably a better business for it. Apple was the biggest winner from the M$ breakup I'm sure I don't need to explain how. 
    Microsoft was never split up.

    There was a Judicial decision to do so but MS appealed it.

    "The DOJ announced on September 6, 2001 that it was no longer seeking to break up Microsoft and would instead seek a lesser antitrust penalty. Microsoft decided to draft a settlement proposal allowing PC manufacturers to adopt non-Microsoft software,"

    That being the case, Apple wasn't in fact the "biggest winner" from the M$ breakup, because the breakup never happened. Apple did benefit from negotiations with MS that included support for Office for a period of five years, and a token investment of $150 M, which ended up being a very good investment for MS.
    The future of the internet was obvious at that time locked to browers, 97% give or take of PCs used MS Explorer. Apple would never have gotten anywhere with the iMac if MS still had a choke hold on the internet=browser. All websites needed to be coded for Explorer to function, the first real modern Mac browser was Explorer, Gates had to provide this to stop the Feds from coming back. 
    Which is all fine and good, but I would note again, MS was never split up, which is what you stated.

    You should admit that you were wrong and move on.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 16
    Could I suggest a more robust investigation of Equifax to the states’ DAs?

    I just don’t get how they walked away with a slap on the wrist.

    Personally, I would be content if Alphabet would change their search algorithms to minimize “paranoid rabbit-holing” and recommit to customer privacy.

    But I am sure advertisers and content creators may have a different perspective.
    tmaywatto_cobra
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