A group of attorneys general from 50 states and territories has launched an antitrust investigation that would probe into Google's search and digital advertising business practices.
Antitrust Probe By 50 US Attorneys General
The attorneys general represent 48 states minus Alabama and California, but including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the initiative's leader, said that Google now dominates all aspects of advertising and searching on the internet, and the search engine company could be threatening competition and consumers.
The coalition also raised concerns on how Google ranks its search results and protects its users' personal data.
Paxton said they have evidence that the tech company's business practices undermine consumer choice, stifled innovation, violated people's privacy, and placed Google in control of the flow and dissemination of information on the internet.
District of Columbia AG Karl Racine said investigators want to hear from Google's employees, consumers, and competitors about any evidence of wrongdoing.
"When there is no longer a free market or competition, this increases prices, even when something is marketed as free, and harms consumers," said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
"Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy information? Is something really free if online ad prices go up based on one company's control?"
A person familiar with the investigation said that a core group of eight attorneys general are spearheading the probe and will take the lead in going through documents and writing briefs.
Leader In Digital Advertising
Figures from digital market research company eMarketer show that Google accounts for about 38 percent of digital advertising in the United States at around $48 billion. Facebook follows at about 22 percent.
Google's share of the market, however, has dropped in recent years as companies like Amazon attract more spending.
US Probes Into Tech Companies
The investigation is the latest in a growing number of U.S. probes involving big technology firms. New York Attorney General Letitia James also announced an antitrust probe into Facebook on Friday. Attorney generals from seven states plus the District of Columbia are participating in the social media company's investigation.