Joint Antitrust Investigation May Loom Over Google

Last fall, the attorneys general of all 50 states announced that they had started to investigate tech giant Google for potential antitrust violations. The federal Justice Department also has launched a review of the tech industry for similar reasons. Now, the state and federal investigations may merge. Seven of the state attorneys general will meet with attorneys from the Justice Department. Their concerns regarding Google involve its stranglehold over the areas of online searches and advertising. Similar red flags have arisen from certain actions related to Google’s Android products.

During the 1990s, the tech industry changed dramatically after an investigation of Microsoft. State and federal authorities also joined forces in that investigation. It led to a lawsuit and a settlement. As a result of those events, third-party browsers gained traction in the tech industry, breaking Microsoft’s grip on this area. Ironically, Google was one of the entities that benefited from the Microsoft settlement. Its browser, Chrome, is now one of the leaders in the industry.

Google has stated that it will cooperate with the government investigation. It already has provided documents to the Justice Department, which now may share them with the state attorneys general. Google is not alone among massive tech companies in receiving scrutiny. The federal government also has targeted Facebook, Amazon, and Apple in a series of investigations. The tech industry has shouldered few regulatory burdens in the past, but recent events suggest that this may change soon.

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