Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading a bipartisan coalition that is launching an antitrust investigation into Google.
50 Attorneys General are investigating Google’s “overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic.”
The group includes 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, excluding Alabama and California.
Paxton says Google “dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet.”
“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 said in a statement announcing the bipartisan investigation. “We intend to closely follow the facts we discover in this case and proceed as necessary.”
The goal of the investigation is to “have an open, fair and free market,” Paxton says. “If that’s what’s going on with Google, then fine. But if they’re acting in a way that disincentivizes competition and forces people out unfairly, that’s a problem.”
Ultimately, the purpose of the investigation is to look into “whether their business practices have undermined free market competition and hurt consumers.”
Legal experts from each state will work in cooperation with federal authorities “to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.”
The investigation is the first of its kind.
The Attorneys General argue Google has engaged in serial and repeated business practices with the intention to protect and maintain its monopoly and power over the market.
Prior investigations uncovered other violations Google committed, including the advertising of illegal drugs in the U.S., which resulted in the European Commission bringing three antitrust actions against the giant company.
Google’s monopoly spans from its search engine to Google Ads, which dominant the online advertising platform, to YouTube, the largest online video platform, to its Android software, which functions as the operating system for the majority of the world’s smartphones.
Google has promised to cooperate with investigators.
“The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions,” Kent Walker, a senior vice president at Google, posted online. “We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so. We look forward to showing how we are investing in innovation, providing services that people want, and engaging in robust and fair competition.”
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.