State AGs To Release Details Of Google, Facebook Probe

State attorneys general led by Texas and New York are separately launching official antitrust investigations into Facebook and Google, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday (Sept. 6). 

Sources told the news outlet the Google investigation will be announced at a press conference on Monday (Sept. 9) outside the U.S. Supreme Court. A bipartisan group of three dozen state attorneys general is also joining the investigation.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the Google probe. At issue is Google’s impact on digital advertising markets and the possible harm this might have caused to consumers, the sources told the newspaper. 

Separately, and overlapping the Google probe, an investigation of Facebook is being undertaken by a bipartisan group of attorneys general led by Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James. 

“We continue to engage in bipartisan conversations about the unchecked power of large tech companies,” James said in a statement to the WSJ. “The attorneys general involved have concerns over the control of personal data by large tech companies and will hold them accountable for anticompetitive practices that endanger privacy and consumer data.”

Both companies are already in hot water, with Facebook paying $5 billion to settle charges from Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allegations over deceptive practices that lured users to give up their personal data. The company is still under investigation regarding its purchase of Instagram. 

Facebook declined to comment for the report, but Google said it will cooperate.

“Google’s services help people every day, create more choices for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country,” said Google spokesman Jose Castañeda. “We continue to work constructively with regulators, including attorneys general.”

Attorneys general from 39 states, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam and the District of Columbia, have all signed a letter to the FTC asking it to look at a large range of factors when it comes to how Big Tech is harming consumers.

There was also a July meeting with AGs from eight states with U.S. Attorney General William Barr to discuss the ramifications of Big Tech.