COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is taking part in a multistate, bipartisan investigation of tech giant Google’s business practices in accordance with state and federal antitrust laws.
Wilson’s office announced he was taking part in the investigation which includes 50 attorneys general Tuesday.
“No company, no matter how big and how powerful, is above the law,” Wilson said. “Every citizen has the right to the protection of his or her privacy even from internet giants. We will get to the bottom of and answer these very serious questions regarding Google’s practices.”
The investigation will examine Google’s 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.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading the investigation.
“Now, more than ever, information is power, and the most important source of information in Americans’ day-to-day lives is the internet,” Paxton said. “When most Americans think of the internet, they no doubt think of Google.”
There is nothing wrong with a business becoming the biggest game in town, Paxton said, if it does so through free market competition, but he has 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.
“We intend to closely follow the facts we discover in this case and proceed as necessary,” Paxton said.
Past investigations of Google, which South Carolina was not involved in, 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.