Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Monday joined 49 of his peers from across the country in announcing an investigation into allegations of antitrust violations by search giant Google.
Led by Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, the bipartisan coalition announced the investigation Monday afternoon in Washington D.C. The group of 50 includes 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, but does not include Alabama and California.
Shapiro, in a news release Monday, stated that the purpose of the probe is to look into “whether their business practices have undermined free market competition and hurt consumers.”
Google’s search business is one of its core moneymaking operations, commanding a massive market share well ahead of Microsoft’s second-place Bing search. Google Ads is also the dominant advertising platform online, and YouTube is the largest video platform. Google’s Android software functions as the operating system for the majority of the world’s smartphones.
“Pennsylvanians deserve access to an internet where they can watch, read, and share freely,” Shapiro said. “Google’s impact on the lives of everyday Americans and the economy is pervasive – it … has the power to control information and commerce around the world. As such, Google has a responsibility to consumers to ensure that the internet remains free and fair.”
In a blog post Friday in advance of Monday’s announcement, Kent Walker, a senior vice president at Google, promised that the company would cooperate with investigators.
“The DOJ has asked us to provide information about these past investigations, and we expect state attorneys general will ask similar questions,” Walker wrote. “We have always worked constructively with regulators and we will continue to do so. We look forward to showing how we are investing in innovation, providing services that people want, and engaging in robust and fair competition.”
Federal investigations of Google’s practices are also ongoing, and the European Union has also fined Google billions of dollars for antitrust violations.
Investigations of tech giants are on the rise for a variety of reasons, and politicians as diverse as President Donald Trump and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have expressed skepticism of the way some companies function. Social media giant Facebook was revealed last week to be the focus of an investigation by the attorneys general of eight states, and Amazon and Apple have also come in for criticism.
The news release Monday from Shapiro’s office described an investigation that will bring together resources from across the country to look into Google’s business practices.
“Throughout the investigation, legal experts from each state will work in cooperation with federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets,” the news release said. “The investigation by the Attorneys General will be the first of its kind to address fully the source of Google’s sustained market power and the ability to engage in serial and repeated business practices with the intention to protect and maintain that power.”