3 Thursday, September 12, 2019 10:35

Dozens of US states aim at Google in bipartisan antitrust probe

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt was among those announcing an antitrust probe into big tech companies that focuses on Alphabet Incs Google [Bryan Pietsch/Reuters] Fifty states and territories have announced a broad investigation into Googles potential monopolistic behaviour.The announcement on Monday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton closely followed one from a separate group of states on Friday that disclosed an investigation into Facebooks market dominance.

The two probes widen the United States antitrust scrutiny of big tech companies beyond sweeping federal and congressional investigations and enforcement action by regulators in the European Union.Sarah Miller, deputy director of the Open Markets Institute, called the investigations historic and said that they are an unprecedented bipartisan effort to protect democracy and commerce from two of the most dangerous monopolies on the planet.

 Nebraska attorney general Doug Peterson, a Republican, said at a press conference held in Washington on Monday that 50 attorneys general joining together sends a strong message to Google.California and Alabama are not part of the investigation, which does include the other 48 states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Tara Gallegos, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, would not confirm or deny any state investigation.The news conference featured a dozen Republican state attorneys general plus the Democratic attorney general of Washington, DC.Free for everyoneGoogles parent company, Alphabet Inc, has a market value of more than $820bn and controls so many facets of the internet that one cannot surf the web for long without running into at least one of its services.

The Mountain View, California-based tech firms dominance in online search and advertising enables it to target millions of consumers for their personal data.Google expects the state authorities will ask the company about similar investigations conducted in the past in the US and internationally, senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker wrote in a blog post on Friday.

Google is one of Americas top spenders on research and development, making investments that spur innovation, Walker wrote. Things that were science fiction a few years ago are now free for everyone - translating any language instantaneously, learning about objects by pointing your phone, getting an answer to pretty much any question you might have.

Critics often point to Googles 2007 acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick as pivotal to its advertising dominance.Europes antitrust regulators slapped Google with a $1.7bn fine in March for unfairly inserting exclusivity clauses into contracts with advertisers, disadvantaging rivals in the online ad business.

.One outcome antitrust regulators might explore is forcing Google to spin off its search platform into a separate company, experts say. Regulators also could focus on areas such as Googles popular video site.....

News Code: 346483  |  aljazeera
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