Alphabet on Friday disclosed that the Department of Justice asked for information and documents related to past antitrust investigations ahead of a possible new federal inquiry. As rumored last week, state attorneys general today announced their own look into Google.
The state-led investigation (via Washington Post), which Alphabet also expected last week, is focused on Google’s dominant advertising business and Search. It is not yet a lawsuit, with the group led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Forty-eight states, the District of Colombia, and Puerto Rico are participating in this inquiry. California and Alabama are not involved according to CNBC. Just last week, a separate group of state AGs led by New York announced an inquiry into Facebook dealing with consumer data protection and competition.
This antitrust inquiry of Google by states follows a 2013 FTC investigation that resulted in no action, but the company did implement voluntary changes related to advertising and patents.
The U.S. is finally taking regulatory action after three European antitrust investigations in recent years resulted in large fines and product changes: $2.7 billion (Shopping), $5 billion (Android), and $1.69 billion (AdSense).
Back in May, it emerged that the Department of Justice would be taking the lead on a federal Google investigating, while the Federal Trade Commission is tasked with Facebook and Amazon.
Google’s response so far has been to highlight its innovation and contribution to the U.S. economy. It plans to cooperate with federal and state regulators.
On August 30, 2019, Alphabet received a civil investigative demand from the DOJ requesting information and documents relating to our prior antitrust investigations in the United States and elsewhere. We expect to receive in the future similar investigative demands from state attorneys general. We continue to cooperate with the DOJ, federal and state regulators in the United States, and other regulators around the world.