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Big antitrust implications for Big Tech

Brett Goncher (brett.goncher@gmail.com) is a contributing writer for SCCE on various topics, including anti-money laundering, anti-trust, trade regulations, and financial services.

In September, the attorneys general (AGs) of 48 US states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico announced the latest regulatory salvo against “Big Tech”—the kickoff of an antitrust investigation of Google.[1]

The announcement, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, cast a wide-ranging net on the internet giant’s business practices, including its alleged stranglehold over the market for online advertising. The official extent of the joint investigation is in the form of a civil investigative demand (CID), consisting of a list of questions and document demands.

On the day of the probe’s launch, Paxton gave a news conference from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that “they dominate the buyer side, the seller side, the auction side, and the video side with YouTube.”[2] Some of the other AGs emphasized that they would be looking into the company’s search result practices and management of user data.

The emergence of a rare public display of Washington bipartisanship (California and Alabama were the only nonparticipating AGs) highlights the complicated landscape of antitrust regulation in the U.S., with more regulation likely on the way.

Google, as well as several other Big Tech companies, already face antitrust reviews from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The other companies—Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., and Facebook—face questions over whether they have grown too large, overwhelming rivals and causing higher costs to consumers.

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