State Attorneys General to Announce Bi-Partisan, Multistate Investigation into Business Practices of Large Tech Firms

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Friday, September 6, 2019

PIERRE, S.D. - Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg today announced that South Dakota is joining with 50 attorneys general in a multistate, bipartisan investigation of tech giant Google's business practices in accordance with state and federal antitrust laws. The coalition is being led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The bipartisan coalition announced plans to investigate Google's overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers. Legal experts from each state will work in cooperation with Federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.

"The ability to access and gather information is essential in our world, and the internet provides us the tools to gather that information," said Ravnsborg. "It is not a stretch to say that most South Dakotans, and Americans, think of Google first when searching the internet. Therefore we are examining their business practices to ensure our citizen's privacy is not at risk."

"There is nothing wrong with a business becoming the biggest game in town if it does so through free market competition, but we have seen evidence that Google's business practices may have undermined consumer choice, stifled innovation, violated users' privacy, and put Google in control of the flow and dissemination of online information," said Paxton. "We intend to closely follow the facts we discover in this case and proceed as necessary."

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 these previous investigations, however, fully address 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.