Antitrust probe against Google launched by nearly all US states

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The top prosecutors for 50 U.S. states and territories on Monday launched an official investigation into Google, as the tech giant faces claims that it violates antitrust law and engages in monopolistic practices.

Google "dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet and searching on the internet," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in announcing the probe by nearly all America's state attorneys general, the Washington Post reported.

Major U.S. technology companies have become a bipartisan target at the federal level, and are under scrutiny by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission over their vast earnings and consumer offerings. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading Democratic candidate for president, has attacked Google, Facebook and Amazon as monopolies with "too much power." Last week, a smaller group of state attorneys general announced an antitrust probe of Facebook, which is under an FTC antitrust investigation.

Google dominates the U.S. digital advertising market, with a 37% share to date this year, according to market analysis firm eMarketer. And this year for the first time, Google's take of total U.S. advertising spending, online and offline, is expected to rise past 20%, eMarketer reported Monday.

The tech behemoth's practices now under close examination in the U.S. have already drawn more than $9 billion in competition-related fines in Europe since 2017.

Paxton, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, said of Google, "They dominate the buyer side, the sellers' side, and even the video side with YouTube," Gizmodo reported.

Last month, Google revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the federal Department of Justice had demanded information and documents related to antitrust investigations. In a blog post Friday, senior Google executive Kent Walker said that the company expected state attorneys general to ask "similar questions" to those posed by the Justice Department. "We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so," Walker said in the post. "We look forward to showing how we are investing in innovation, providing services that people want and engaging in robust and fair competition."

In response to today's announcement by state attorneys general, Google referred this to Walker's blog post.

©2019 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)
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