A coalition of attorneys general from 50 U.S. states and territories formally announced an investigation into possible antitrust-violating practices by Google/Alphabet with regard to advertising. The only states not participating: California and Alabama.
Announced from the steps of the Supreme Court Monday afternoon, the probe by the states is intending to focus on what it refers to as Google's "online search juggernaut," and the ways in which its bid for ad revenue dominance may have impacted the quality of searches themselves.
As one attorney general, Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas, said during the press conference, per BuzzFeed, "When my daughter is sick and I search online for advice, I want the best advice from the best doctors, not the ones who can spend the most on advertising."
The announcement of the probe comes just days after a similar one was launched by eight states' attorneys general into Facebook, and both investigations come in reaction to what many see as inaction by Congress and the Federal Trade Commission in an era in which several large tech companies control an inordinate share of our data and our eyeballs.
This larger probe into Google/Alphabet appears to be led in part by Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, who charged that the company "dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet." As he said at the conference, according to the Washington Post, the probe may extend to other parts of Google's business, but the first focus will be on ads. As he put it, "They dominate the buyer side, the seller side, the auction side, and the video side with YouTube." Paxton further cautioned that this is not a lawsuit at this stage, but merely an investigation.
Republican attorney general Jeff Landry of Louisiana called Google's domination "an absolutely existential threat to our virtual marketplace."
This effort by the states comes in tandem with parallel antitrust investigations that are ongoing at the FTC and the Department of Justice, which have also asked for records from Amazon and Apple.