In a decision most newspaper publishers will quite appreciate, Oregon’s Attorney General has joined 50 other states and U.S. territories launching an antitrust investigation against Google. The bipartisan action was announced Monday. Google dominates search, and recently it was revealed the company may take actions that would adversely affect newspaper paywalls.
Industry insiders see Google and Facebook as a duopoly. Together, the companies reap 73 percent of the online advertising dollars spent by businesses and non-profits. Many of the decisions the two companies have made are seen as adversarial towards the news industry, generally.
While Monday’s announcement was about the investigation of Google, another group of state attorneys general, spearheaded by New York’s Letitia James, has started their own probe of Facebook. Most newspapers see Facebook as an especially egregious actor.
Appearing on the steps of the Supreme Court, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Google “dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet and searching on the internet,” though he also said that Monday’s announcement was concerning investigations, not a lawsuit.
The Feds and Big Tech
DOJ officials issued Google a demand for records at the end of August, according to a securities filing made by Google on Friday.
The FTC last investigated Google for antitrust violations six years ago – at the time, the agency chose not to take any serious actions. However, European regulators have assessed $9 billion in fines for the company’s anti-competitive behavior over the last three years.
Both the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are also probing other tech firms.
By Andy Thompson