Montana Attorney General Tim Fox on Monday joined 49 other state attorneys general in launching an investigation of Google and its business practices for violations under state and federal antitrust laws.
Fox said the bipartisan coalition will investigate Google’s alleged control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harmed consumers.
“I and other state attorneys general are investigating because we have seen evidence that Google’s business practices may have undermined consumer choice, stifled innovation, compromised privacy, and put Google in control of the flow and dissemination of online information,” Fox said in a statement.
“We are concerned that Google has achieved and maintained this power through business practices designed to thwart competition and suppress alternatives to their products.
Fox said legal experts from each state, including the Montana Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection, will work in cooperation with federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure fair access to free digital markets.
“We will investigate in an objective and fair-minded manner, with a focus on ensuring Americans have access to free markets in which companies compete on the merits of their products,” Fox said. “If we identify illegal activities, we will take appropriate action.”
Past investigations of Google uncovered violations ranging from advertising illegal drugs in the United States to now three antitrust actions brought by the European Commission.
None of the previous investigations fully addressed 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.