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Published On: Wed, Sep 11th, 2019

States launch antitrust probes into Facebook, Google

Top state law-enforcement officials from across the country are formally launching antitrust probes into Facebook and Alphabet’s Google starting this week, further pressuring tech giants already under federal scrutiny over whether their online dominance stifles competition.

The first probe, led by New York and including seven other states and the District of Columbia, focuses on Facebook. The second, announced by Texas and likely to include up to 40 other states, did not specify the targets among large tech companies but was expected to center on Google.

“The growth of these [tech] companies has outpaced our ability to regulate them in a way that enhances competition,” said Keith Ellison, a Democratic attorney general from Minnesota who is signing on to the effort to probe Google.

“The attorneys general have found they can actually rewrite the rules for entire sectors and individual companies through these cases,” said Rob McKenna, a former attorney general in Washington state and now a partner at the law firm Orrick. “The attorneys general have a lot of power here to achieve regulation by litigation.”

“Online advertising is everywhere. This investigation is about whether that market is fair and open to all. We hope that Google will cooperate in the states’ investigation,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) said in a statement.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

The Facebook probe will look into whether the company “endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James in a statement.

James will be joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.

With Google, states plan to focus their probe on the way the search giant amasses data and maintains its dominance, particularly in advertising, where it captured more than 38 percent of the online advertising market in 2018, according to eMarketer.

The state inquiries coincide with bipartisan scrutiny of the tech giants in Washington, by House and Senate committees, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. Federal officials are examining the practices of Amazon and Apple as well as those of Facebook and Google.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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