Attorneys general from 48 US states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico formally opened an antitrust probe on Monday into Google, Reuters reports.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the probe, was quoted as saying that the investigation will focus on Google’s “overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers.”
California and Alabama declined to be part of the probe, according to the report.
Participating states on Monday asked Google to provide documents on its advertising business, Paxton said at the announcement in Washington.
Several attorneys general present described the investigation as “preliminary” and said they expect it would expand to cover other issues, including data privacy.
A separate group of eight state attorneys general, led by New York, joined by the District of Columbia, announced on Friday that they were investigating Facebook. On Monday, attorneys general declined to say if they planned to expand scrutiny to other large tech firms.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge called Google’s search engine a “juggernaut” and argued that a free search sometimes came at the cost of the freedom to choose the best products from the best companies.
“When a company becomes a verb, it may seem as though the states are David taking on Goliath but I am proud to stand tall with my fellow attorneys general,” Rutledge said.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said the probe was “for the benefit of the tech ecosystem to help level the playing field.”
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