O Google will be investigated by attorneys general from 50 U.S. states and territories: the goal is to find out if the company used any undue advantage to dominate the online ad market. The survey may expand over time, involving the way search results are organized and the protection of users’ personal data.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on Monday (9) that Google will be investigated for “mastering all aspects of online advertising and internet search,” according to the Washington Post. He recalls, however, that the states will not yet file a lawsuit; this is an inquiry for now.
The investigation will be supported by 48 American states – Alabama and California were excluded – as well as the District of Columbia (where Washington is located) and Puerto Rico. They will be represented by their respective attorney generals, who are the government’s main legal advisers.
Paxton said that the initial focus of the survey will be online advertising: “They dominate the buyer, seller, auction and YouTube side.” Last year, Google had revenues of $ 116 billion with ads.
US also investigates Facebook, Apple and Amazon
This will be a bipartisan investigation, that is, with attorney generals from the Republican and Democratic parties. Republican Sean Reyes, a Utah representative, believes that “there is nothing wrong with playing a dominant role when it is done fairly,” but notes that there are several complaints about Google’s business practices.
Democrat Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, said in a statement: “Corporate power without controls cannot overshadow consumer rights … we will use all the investigative tools at our disposal in the Google investigation to ensure that the truth is exposed.”
Letitia James also leads the group of 11 attorney generals investigating Facebook to find out whether the social network has violated antitrust laws, and whether it properly handles users’ personal data.
It is worth remembering that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) opened an antitrust lawsuit in July to investigate the conduct of large technology companies, not to mention which ones – Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple and Facebook are believed to be.
In a statement, Google says: “We hope to show how we are investing in innovation, providing services that people want, and participating in fair and robust competition”.