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US states launch anti-trust probe of Google advertising with focus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – the Attorneys general of 48 states and the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and a formal anti-trust probe on Monday into the ‘Alphabet’ of Google’s (GOOGL.(O) in a sign of increased government scrutiny of US technology giants.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the probe, said it will focus on Google’s “overall control of the online advertising markets, and the search traffic that may have resulted in anti-competitive behavior that harms consumers.”

California and Alabama refused to be a part of the probe.

The participating member states, on Monday asked Google to take the documents to the advertising business in Paxton, said at the announcement in Washington. Several attorneys are present, as described by the study as “preliminary,” and said that she expected that it would spread to other issues, including the privacy of your personal data.

A separate group of eight attorneys general, led by New York, New York, along with the District of Columbia, which was announced on Friday, was to investigate Facebook Inc. (FB.D). On Monday, the attorney-general, declined to say if they are going to make the review, to extend it to other major tech companies.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is called in the Google search engine as a “juggernaut,” and pointed out that it is a free of charge may, at the expense of the freedom to choose the best products from the best companies.

“When a company becomes a verb, it can make it seem as if the states are to take David to Goliath, but I am proud to stand with my fellow attorneys general,” Rutledge said.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said the probe was “for the benefit of the tech ecosystem, and to help level the playing field.”

A spokesman for the California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, said that the state was in the control of anti-competitive conduct, but declined further comment to protect the integrity of a potential or ongoing investigations.”

ONCE PRAISED

The Tech giants who once hailed as the engines of economic growth, more and more come under fire for the alleged abuse of his authority, and for the record, such as a privacy breach.

The US President, Donald Trump has also been accused by social media companies and Google to suppress conservative voices online, and has not presented a proof for his views.

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Specifically, Google faces allegations that its web-search results to consumers on the products, to the detriment of its rivals. There are also complaints of the potential for anti-competitive behavior in how it’s run, the advertising side of the business.

In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission has closed an investigation into Google’s explanation of it does not manipulate search results to hurt rivals. At the same time, the FTC said that Google agreed to end the practice of “scraping,” or unauthorized copying of competitors ‘ content, such as user-generated reviews of restaurants.

Senator Josh Hawley, who as Missouri attorney general to open a probe into Google in 2017, hailed Monday’s billed as “a very, very big day for the people who have to take care of the enforcement of the competition rules.”

Amy Ray, an antitrust lawyer with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, said that states had an important task ahead of them.

“An enforcer, or an applicant will need to navigate U.S. monopolization law, which has rarely been done successfully since the Microsoft anti-trust case,’ ” she said.

The world’s largest social media platform, Facebook, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has more than 1.5 billion daily users, has been criticized for allowing deceptive messages, and the “fake news” to be shared with the service.

One criticism of Facebook is that it is slow to clamp down on hate speech. The company has recently paid $5 billion in a settlement for a share of the 87 million users’ data to and from the now-defunct British political consulting firm in Cambridge Analytica, whose clients included Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Will Castleberry, Facebook’s vice president for state and local government, said last week that the company would continue to work together with the attorney-general.

At the federal level, the federal Ministry of Justice and the FTC also have the feeling of Facebook, Google, and Apple (AAPL.O) and Amazon (AMZN.D) for possible violations of the antitrust laws.

Alphabet said on Friday the Justice Department by the end of August, of the requested information and documents in relation to prior anti-trust probe of the company. It is said that it was made with the co-operation of the federal regulatory agencies and is expected to probe in the united states of america.

It did not have any further comment on Monday, when the shares were down 0.6 percent in late trading.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has been accused of using unfair tactics used by third-party vendors, who will have to pay for advertising on the Amazon, in order to compete with its own first-party and private label sales.

In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, speaking to Reuters following a news conference to announce an anti-trust investigation into the large-tech firms that focus on the Alphabet, Google, is outside of the U. s. Supreme Court in Washington, d.c., USA, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Bryan Pietsch

Apple has come under fire from the app developer’s practices, such as the creation of the only iPhone apps that will be available through the official App Store. The music-streaming app, Spotify (SPOT light.(N) it has been claimed that the App Store policy is making it difficult for it to compete with Apple and the Music for subscribers.

State attorneys general have fewer resources than the federal agencies, however, it is well known that a team will take on the big companies.

Most recently, in 43 states and Puerto Rico, sued Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (The VERIFICATION.And 19, other drugmakers in May, accusing them of scheming to inflate prices, and the competition of more than 100 generic products.

Reporting by Diane Bartz and David Shepardson and He Pietsch; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Sonya Hepinstall

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