US AGs Prepare Probes Into Big Tech

Antitrust Concerns, Cryptos In Sharp Regulatory Focus

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that state attorneys general are preparing to launch their own investigations into big tech companies like Facebook and Apple.

The investigations would center around some of the same concerns that have already prompted queries from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Congress and the Department Of Justice (DOJ). The move could add to tech companies’ worries over repeated talk of monopolies, and could also put pressure on federal officials to act.

The DOJ and the FTC recently decided on how they would handle probes; the DOJ will have authority over Apple and Google’s parent company Alphabet, while the FTC will look into Facebook and Amazon.

As for the AG investigations, they seem to primarily focus on Google and Facebook. A group of between 12 and 20 AGs are reportedly discussing how to handle antitrust issues in those companies.

Jeff Landry, the Louisiana attorney general, said that even though the government has the most authority, “meaningful litigation to check companies over the last 30 years seems to be starting out more and more from the state AGs. Now it’s up to the AGs and DOJ and FTC … to solve the problems.”

Many AGs are meeting with FTC officials at a workshop in in Omaha, Nebraska, where they will reportedly speak on the issues. Landry will appear on a panel, and so will Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson.

It is unlikely that a decision will be made on how to move forward with the investigations, but the meeting will give the officials a chance to discuss the issues at length.

“What you’re seeing is more AGs of both parties trying to pursue this issue,” said Jim Hood, the Mississippi attorney general. He said antitrust issues are “up there with the Standard Oil trust during that era, the robber barons in the 1800s – we’re looking at that kind of political power.” He added that he thinks the issues will end up in court at some point.


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