Fifty attorneys general announced on Monday that they are joining an investigation into left-wing tech giant Google over alleged antitrust violations.
CNN reports that the 50 attorneys general are from 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with California and Alabama being the only two states not to participate.
“The state investigations put an additional layer of pressure on both” Google and Google parent company Alphabet, “which are already facing antitrust scrutiny on the federal level,” CNBC reported.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that Google “dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet,” and that the investigation will initially start with Google’s advertising business “but the facts will lead where the facts lead.”
“The probe marks the latest regulatory headache for the tech giant and its Silicon Valley peers, which have faced growing criticism that they’ve grown too big and powerful, undermining rivals and resulting in costlier or worse service for web users,” The Washington Post reported. “Both the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission also are scrutinizing Big Tech, and DOJ officials issued Google their first legal demand for records at the end of August, according to a securities filing made by Google late Friday.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who is one of the leading voices taking on big tech in the Senate, tweeted: “It’s going to be a very bad day for @google. Less than 2 years after I launched the first state antitrust investigation of Google (as Missouri Attorney General), more than 40 state AGs are joining a coalition to hold Google accountable.”
“Message to state AGs taking on new investigation of Big Tech from someone who launched the first investigation: The companies are lawyering up, trying to find ways to divide you, and looking for every chance to stonewall,” Hawley added. “Don’t let them. And don’t back down.”
“I can’t remember the last time you had just about everybody get on the train,” said William Kovacic, a former FTC chairman under President George W. Bush. “It provides somewhat of a greater degree of political support and power behind it in terms of resourcing.”
“The Justice Department’s antitrust division, under Makan Delrahim, unveiled its own plans in July to probe whether major social media, search and e-commerce companies have grown too dominant,” Politico reported. “The fact that their party affiliations are split evenly between Democrats and Republicans may complicate any accusations from the companies and their supporters that the efforts are politically motivated.”
“This adds a whole different level of complexity for both Facebook and Google to deal with because they’re dealing with potentially many different investigations, not all of which may be coordinated,” said Robert Litan, former Clinton-era deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s antitrust division. “All I know is I’m sure this is a major headache for the general counsels of both of these companies.”
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