Forty-eight states and two U.S. territories have officially launched an investigation into Google’s “potential monopolistic behavior.”
Alabama and California are the only two states not joining the bipartisan investigation. Instead, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico are joining the 48 other attorneys general.
“This is a company that dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet, as they dominate the buyer, seller and auction side,” Paxton said, according to CBS News. “If advertising costs are higher, advertisers pay more, and ultimately that’s passed on to consumers.”
The investigation will focus on Google’s advertising and search dominance, specifically claims that the big tech company prioritizes its own products and subsidiaries in search results.
“There’s definitely concern on the part of the advertisers themselves that Google wields way too much power in setting rates and favoring their own services over others,” Jen King, the director of privacy at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, told Fox News.
According to eMarketer estimates, Google will control 31.1 percent of global digital ad dollars this year.
“On the one hand, you could just say, ‘well, Google is dominant because they’re good,'” King said. “But at the same time, it’s created an ecosystem where people’s whole internet experience is mediated through Google’s home page and Google’s other products.”
European regulators have already fined Google $5 billion for its search practices favoring its own products over competitors; Google is appealing the fine.
“Google’s services help people every day, create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country,” Kent Walker, Google’s Senior Vice President for Global Affairs, said in an official statement last week.
“We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so.”
While bipartisan efforts are moving forward, the vice president of NetChoice, a trade association of businesses, expressed disappointment in the plans, calling it a “tech witch hunt.”
“There is no case for antitrust. The marketplace is robust with competition and it’s incongruous that direct competitors can all simultaneously be monopolies,” Carl Szabo told The Daily Caller News Foundation in August.
“Antitrust enforcement is a tool to ensure competition, not a weapon to attack businesses you don’t like,” Szabo said. “If AGs ignore facts and convert antitrust enforcement from an objective standard to a subjective one, it will create a dangerous political weapon that should scare all businesses.”
Reputation Management Consultants Chairman Eric Schiffer said any bipartisan efforts will likely not have much effect.
“There are components of what big tech does that can be extremely anti-competitive. However, the way the antitrust laws are written make it difficult for attorneys general to effectuate much change,” he said.
“For instance, Facebook controls significant social media in the U.S. But the way antitrust laws are written, because it is free and because of the structure the business is set up, that antitrust laws will be difficult to curtail.”
A different group of states also announced last Friday that it will be looking into Facebook’s online dominance.
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