48 states band together to investigate Google

Tech Giants Antitrust

Top legal officials from dozens of USA states were set to unveil a probe of Google over allegations of "anticompetitive behavior", days after a separate coalition announced a similar investigation of social networking giant Facebook.

Attorneys general from 48 states, as well as from the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, announced on Monday they're launching a preliminary antitrust investigation into Google. He tweeted last month an accusation by a former employee that the tech giant had suppressed negative stories on Hillary Clinton in Google search results, while boosting negative stories about him.

The latest investigation includes almost all 50 U.S. states, except for California and Alabama. "We will not prejudge the direction or outcome of this investigation, but are committed to following the facts in whatever direction they take us", said Attorney General Tong. "That indicates a greater number of staff resources that can be brought to bear".

Google has been one of the top contributors to Becerra's recent campaigns. "Today's announcement marks the start of a new era". Google is based in Mountain View, California.

"There is an absolutely existential threat to our virtual marketplace", said Jeff Landry, Louisiana's attorney general. The only states not participating: California and Alabama.

A spokesperson for the Alabama attorney general didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Another group of 11 state attorneys general - led by New York's Letitia James - has begun their own probe against Facebook, exploring whether it violates competition laws and mishandles consumers' personal information. The effort includes seven other states as well as the District of Columbia.

First reported by CNBC, the case will see the states and territories investigating whether the company is abusing its dominance to shut out smaller rivals and gather increasing amounts of data on its users without their express, informed consent. Google disclosed on Friday that the department had issued civil investigative demands, which are akin to subpoenas, for all documents in prior antitrust probes.

The move to invoke the courts highlights the growing scrutiny of government on the activities of technology giants amid fears that free search functionality has come at the cost of being able to locate the best products and companies.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is spearheading the bipartisan investigation, which is beginning with the search and digital advertising markets. Google has reportedly declined to comment, pointing to earlier statements that it will work with state officials.

The probe is the latest sign of the rapidly expanding antitrust investigations confronting Google along with other giant United States tech firms.

Google confirmed that the Department of Justice had asked for its records on previous antitrust probes.

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