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Google ‘facing’ new antitrust probe from California

(FILES) A file photo taken on November 20, 2017 shows logos of US multinational technology company Google displayed on computers' screens. Google is dropping out of the bidding for a huge Pentagon cloud computing contract that could be worth up to $10 billion, saying the deal would be inconsistent with its principles. The decision by Google, confirmed to AFP in an email October 9, 2018, leaves a handful of other tech giants including Amazon in the running for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract aimed at modernizing the military's computing systems. / AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE
Agence France-Presse

California has reportedly opened its own antitrust investigation into Google, Politico reports, which would mean the search giant is now facing antitrust probes from every state in the US bar one. It is not known which aspect of the company California’s attorney general is investigating, but recent scrutiny has focused on its acquisitions, and its dominance and conduct in the ad tech market and search markets.

The probe would be just the latest antitrust investigation faced by Google. Last September, attorneys general from 50 states and territories announced an antitrust investigation into Google’s advertising and search businesses. At the time, California and Alabama were the only two states to not participate in the probe. California’s non-participation was particularly notable, since the state houses Google’s Mountain View headquarters. This latest news could leave Alabama as the only state that’s not investigating the company. California’s probe will reportedly be separate from the investigation announced last year.

Simultaneously, the Justice Department’s broad antitrust review it announced last summer into Big Tech has reportedly focused in on Google, and the department is thought to be working closely with the state-level investigation. Google confirmed its involvement in the Justice Department investigation last September, when it said it had been asked to provide information to the federal agency. A suit from the Justice Department could arrive as soon as next month, according to Politico, but it’s not known whether the multi-state investigation will continue separately after that point.

Scrutiny has also come from congress, where Google CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to testify later this month as part of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee’s inquiry. CEOs from Amazon, Apple, and Facebook have also agreed to testify as part of the investigation.

The FTC has also asked Amazon, Google, and Facebook to turn over evidence into their acquisitions and mergers.

Both Google and a spokesperson for the California Attorney General declined to comment to Politico on its report. “To protect the integrity of our work, it’s our practice not to comment on any pending or potential investigation, even to confirm or deny their existence,” a spokesperson for the attorney general told Gizmodo.

As well as hosting Google’s headquarters, an antitrust investigation by California is significant because the state has a large staff dedicated to antitrust and competition investigations, Politico notes, and its Cartwright Act and Unfair Competition Act antitrust laws have been more broadly interpreted than federal antitrust law in the past.

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Source: Today

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