Google filed a lawsuit on Thursday (Oct. 31) against the attorney general of Texas, asking a court to protect against confidential business information becoming public in the course of an investigation, according to a report by Reuters.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading an investigation by 48 states into Google and its potential antitrust practices. Google said Paxton’s hiring of three consultants, which include two people who were employed by rivals, could potentially bring some of Google’s private business practices to light.
“Given the breadth of confidential information sought by [Paxton’s office] and the heightened risks of leaks and disclosure to Google’s competitors and complainants in this and other regulatory proceedings, a protective order is appropriate and necessary,” Google said.
Other big tech companies, like Amazon and Apple, have also faced increased scrutiny over business practices as well. Many are worried about the company’s large market shares, privacy issues and whether sites like Facebook are sharing untrue information.
Google is also being investigated by the U.S. House Antitrust Subcommittee, and Chairman Rep. David Cicilline said he anticipates having a final report in early 2020 about big technology companies and any breaches of antitrust law.
The committee is anticipating additional data in the first months of 2020, adding to stacks of information already received from Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, Amazon and Apple.
“Our hope is to conclude our evidence collection (by the) end of this year, beginning of next year with the idea that we will have a final report, instead of recommendations in the first part of next year,” Cicilline said.
Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Rohit Chopra participated in the hearing, joined by representatives from Harvard Kennedy School and the American Enterprise Institute.
Chopra said big tech firms stifle rivals by accumulating private data, which gives them a competitive advantage.
He further told reporters that lawmakers have to examine the penalties handed down to big tech firms that are found to be in violation of laws.
Personal data is powering the dominance of tech companies that offer basic services for free, which are ultimately not free, Chopra added.