Published: Wed, September 11, 2019
Economy | By

USA states and territories launch antitrust probe into Google’s ‘potential monopolistic behavior’

USA states and territories launch antitrust probe into Google’s ‘potential monopolistic behavior’

Moody told reporters that the investigation will start with Google's dominance in online advertising but could lead to how the tech giant handles users' data.

Appearing on the steps of the Supreme Court, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Google "dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet and searching on the internet", though he said it is an investigation for now and not a lawsuit.

One outcome antitrust regulators might explore is forcing Google to spin off search as a separate company, experts say.

This probe by the State Attorneys' General is actually in addition to the probe by the US Department of Justice, which Google confirmed in a blog post last week. The states have a track record of taking on major companies such as cigarette makers and banks over harm to consumers and wresting fines that amount to billions of dollars. Just California (Google's home state) and Alabama are uninvolved. 'That indicates a greater number of staff resources that can be brought to bear. The company reported US$116.3 billion (S$160 billion) in ad revenue previous year, which was 85 per cent of overall sales. The stock was down more than 1% at 2:30 NY, at $1,193.75, or about 8% below a record reached in late April.

Separately last week, New York AG Letitia James said she was leading a bipartisan group of state AGs to probe antitrust concerns around Facebook.

Paxton said the probe's initial focus is online advertising.

Google was final evening accused of making an "existential threat" to web retailers with its grip on digital promoting as U.S. prosecutors introduced a contest probe into the corporate.

48 USA states and two territories - missing only California and Alabama - have announced the launch of a massive investigation into Google's advertising and search businesses, looking for evidence that the company has abused its market dominance.

"The broad question we are examining is whether Google has achieved and maintained its dominance through business practices created to thwart competition". The search giant contributed $US7,300 to his campaign for attorney general past year, according to data from the California Secretary of State's office. "Google's anticompetitive behavior is a serious problem for our economy and our democracy, and the state attorneys general clearly get that".

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine suggested that Google could be using its market power to unfairly manipulate search results.

"It remains to be seen if the (attorneys general) have any merit to their complaints or if they will be conducting a fishing expedition hoping to find some damning evidence", Goldman said. On Friday, Google confirmed that the Justice Department asked the company for information as part of its ongoing tech competition review.

According to the document, the states want information about Google's past acquisitions of advertising technology companies, including DoubleClick and AdMob; its top advertisers and publishers; data collection practices; pricing models; and the functions of the ad auction market that delivers ads across the internet.

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