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The Attorney General of Texas directs the Google antitrust probe



Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google LLC, arrives at the White House Meeting in Washington, D.C., United States, Thursday, December 6, 2018

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Fifty attorneys general join a Google investigation into possible antitrust violations, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the initiative's leader, said Monday.

The news confirms last week's announcement of a two-pronged investigation into Google's practices. The two-probe will take place when Facebook faces its own antitrust investigation, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James with attorneys from seven states plus the District of Columbia.

Paxton stated that the probe would focus on Google's advertising business, "but the facts will lead where the facts lead." So far, all the facts the group has requested are centered around advertising, Paxton said.

The trial included attorneys general from 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. California and Alabama are not participating in the study, Paxton said at a news conference.

The shares of Alphabet's parent company decreased by about 0.8% at the time of the announcement.

State investigations put additional pressure on both companies that already face antitrust controls at the federal level. Facebook confirmed an antitrust study by the Federal Trade Commission in July after the agency struck it with a $ 5 billion fine for its privacy practices. And the Justice Department will conduct its own antitrust investigation into Google, according to The Wall Street Journal.

So far, regulatory action at the federal level has had minimal impact on Big Tech. Both Google and Facebook have recently received FTC fines for processing user data, which would be considered high by most standards but represent only a small fraction of their quarterly revenue.

But antitrust, compared to privacy and consumer concerns, poses a more direct threat to the business models of these companies. For example, if federal or state surveys find evidence of anticompetitive behavior on Google, for example, it may be forced to make its algorithms friendlier to competitors, even if it feeds on its own profits.

At Monday's press conference announcing the probe, attorneys generally emphasized Google's dominance in the advertising market and the use of consumer data.

"When there is no free market or competition anymore, it raises prices, even when something is marketed for free and harms consumers," said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican. "Is there anything really free if is we increasingly passing on our privacy information? Is it really free if online advertising prices rise based on the control of one company? "

Doug Peterson, Attorney General of Nebraska, said he eagerly expects to work with Minister

"The fact that you have examined the UK, France, Australia, the European Commission, who are considering this, all indicate that this is an important problem, is really important," Peterson

Attorney General's focus on Google and Facebook does not mean that other tech giants like Amazon and Apple will be free from control, sources told a magazine last week that investigations could extend to other companies.

This story is unfolding. Check back for updates.

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