Dozen of attorneys general investigating advertising practices at Alphabet, the parent company at Google, are planning to expand an antitrust probe into the unit’s flagship Android mobile device operating system business, say people familiar with the matter.
The investigation, led by the Texas attorney general’s office, is known to have focused on Google’s search and digital advertising businesses since it began in September.
In addition to Texas there are 48 other states, Puerto Rico and Washington DC, represented in the probe.
Dozens of attorneys general already investigating advertising practices at Alphabet, the parent company at tech giant, are now expanding their investigation into it’s flagship Android mobile device operating unit (pictured)
The Google investigation has been spearheaded by Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (pictured)
Democrat New York Attorney General Letitia James (pictured) has lead a group of attorneys general in a probe of Facebook which has overlapped with the Google state attorneys general investigation
Google has said it is cooperating and that previous investigations by several states considered similar issues without charging the company with wrongdoing.
The company did not have further comment on Thursday, reports CNBC.
Google already was fined €4.34billion euros, or $4.8billion, by the European Commission, last year after it said the tech giant gave itself an unfair advantage by pre-installing its Chrome browser and Google search app on Android smartphones and notebooks.
The search engine giant, as well as Facebook, have been the targets of antitrust investigations since September, while at the same time they have faced a federal probe.
The Google investigation has been spearheaded by Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Democrat New York Attorney General Letitia James has lead an overlapping group of attorneys general in a probe of Facebook.
‘Even the largest social media platform in the world must follow the law and respect consumers’, James said.
‘I am proud to be leading a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in investigating whether Facebook has stifled competition and put users at risk.
‘We will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions may have endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising’.
Facebook says it plans to work constructively with state attorneys general who are launching the antitrust probe.
Facebook’s Will Castleberry, a vice president of state and local policy, said in a statement on September 6 that the company welcomes a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which it operates.
Facebook says it plans to work constructively with state attorneys general who have launched an antitrust probe of the tech giant, amid a federal probe. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pictured testifying before a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington on October 23
Castleberry says people have multiple choices for every one of the services Facebook provides.
He also says that if Facebook were to stop innovating, people could easily leave the platform.
The investigation into Facebook is led by New York in cooperation with the attorneys general of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.
The attorneys general will reportedly be looking at the possible harm to consumers from Google’s impact on digital advertising, as well as investigating concerns over Facebook’s control of personal data.
While Google has said that it was cooperating with the state officials, Facebook has not commented.
Sources say the probes by the attorneys general, which have been speculated for several weeks, could also be expanded to include other tech giants.
The tech giants, among the richest and most powerful companies in the world, are facing increasing antitrust scrutiny from Congress, federal agencies and now the state attorneys general.
The Justice Department said in July that it was opening a broad investigation of major digital technology firms, focusing on whether they engage in anti-competitive practices. The investigation is believed to be aimed at Google, Amazon and Facebook, and potentially Apple.
Separately, the Federal Trade Commission, which also enforces antitrust law, is also probing Amazon and Facebook to determine if they abused their massive market power in retail and social media, respectively.
The state action coincides with a move by the Department of Justice, which announced its own antitrust review into big tech in August.
Democrat New York Attorney General Letitia James tweeted on September 6 that she was launching a probe of Facebook (pictured)