US Attorneys General Launch Bipartisan Probe Into Google


Stephanie Mlot, reports on Geek.com that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading 50 states in a bipartisan investigation of Google’s business practices. They intend to investigate Google’s overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic, which may have led to anticompetitive behavior.

“Now, more than ever, information is power, and the most important source of information in Americans’ day-to-day lives is the Internet,” Paxton said. “When most Americans think of the Internet, they no doubt think of Google.”

For most of us, myself included, Google is my primary web browser and search engine. Every one of us at times has “Googled” something. It’s so common that the term has entered our language as a verb.

But as Mlot has pointed out, there are also potential dangers from monopolistic domination.

According to eMarketer, Google is expected to collect more than $48 billion in U.S. digital ad revenue this year, capturing 75 percent of all spending on search ads in 2019.

“They (Google) dominate the buyer side, the seller side, the auction side, and the video side with YouTube,” Paxton said from the steps of the Supreme Court, as reported by The Washington Post.

Other AGs raised additional complaints, covering everything from the way Google processes and ranks search results to the extent of which it may not fully protect users’ personal information.

Officials from every state—except Alabama and Silicon Valley home California—as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have signed onto the bipartisan investigation.

“Google monitors our online behavior and captures data on every one of us as we navigate the Internet,” Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republic from Florida, said in a statement.

“This investigation will initially focus on capture of that information and whether Google embedded itself on every level of the online market [for] ad sales to monopolize this industry,” she said.

The Department of Justice, meanwhile, issued its first legal demand for records at the end of August.

“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.

“We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so,” he added.

Legal experts from each state will collaborate with federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.

“There is nothing wrong with a business becoming the biggest game in town if it does so through free market competition,” Paxton said on Monday. “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. We intend to closely follow the facts we discover in this case and proceed as necessary.”

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