Every US state and territory -- with the glaring exception of California, of course, and for some reason Alabama -- is joining Texas to sue Google over antitrust violations for controlling 75% of the internet ad market. It's about time. Google doesn't need to be broken up, it needs to be shattered.
Attorneys general for 50 U.S. states and territories on Monday officially announced an antitrust investigation of Google, embarking on a wide-ranging review of a tech giant that Democrats and Republicans said may threaten competition, consumers and the continued growth of the web.
Appearing on the steps of the Supreme Court, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton charged that Google “dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet,” though he cautioned that despite his criticism the states had launched an investigation for now and not a lawsuit.
Paxton said the probe’s initial focus is online advertising. Google is expected to rake in more than $48 billion in U.S. digital ad revenue this year, far rivaling its peers, while capturing 75 percent of all spending on U.S. search ads, according to eMarketer.
“They dominate the buyer side, the seller side, the auction side and the video side with YouTube,” he said during a news conference alongside officials from 11 states and the District of Columbia.
Some of those attorneys general appeared to raise additional complaints about Google, ranging from the way the company processes and ranks search results to the extent to which it may not fully protect users’ personal information. Their early rebukes raised the stakes for Google, threatening top-to-bottom scrutiny of its sprawling business beyond just ads. Paxton promised the probe would go wherever the facts lead.
“There’s nothing wrong with being a dominant player when it’s done fairly,” said Sean Reyes, the Republican attorney general of Utah. He said there is a “presumption” of innocence in such an investigation but still said there is a “pervasiveness” to complaints about Google’s business practices.
Jeff Landry, a Republican from Louisiana, added: “We’re here because there’s an absolutely existential threat to our virtual marketplace.”
Google declined to comment, pointing to its previous statements saying it will work with state officials.
The probe marks the latest regulatory headache for Google and the rest of Silicon Valley, which have faced growing criticism — and widening state and federal scrutiny — into whether they’ve grown too big and powerful, undermining rivals and resulting in costlier or worse service for web users. The Post first reported the states’ plans for a Google probe last week.
For Google, though, the states’ investigation comes more than six years after federal watchdogs wrapped up an antitrust investigation into its search and advertising practices and opted against bringing major penalties against the company, including breaking it up. Regulators around the world, meanwhile, have been more skeptical of Google: The European Union has issued the company $9 billion in competition-related fines over the past three years.
The Obama administration really dropped the ball on Google and let them get away scot-free, the result was Google's internet ads being the tool of choice by Russian hackers to manipulate voters in 2016 to help Donald Trump.
As far as California not joining in, well the state's getting its taxes from Google. Alphabet, Google's parent company, paid $2.1 billion in state and federal taxes in 2018. They're not going to cut the golden goose's throat.
California AG Xavier Becerra says the state is not joining in because of "potential and ongoing investigations" into the company but my guess is that he was told not to touch them...and oh year, Becerra like basically every other California Democrat, took Google money for his campaign when he was in the US House.
Hopefully this will lead to a crack-up. Google made almost one out of every three global ad dollars on the internet in 2019.
It's got to go.