State AGs launch antitrust probe of Facebook and Google

It has been an unfavorable month for big tech as state attorneys general launch antitrust probes to review the extreme concentration in the tech industry. 

Last week, the New York Attorney General Letitia James launched an antitrust investigation of Facebook that will focus “on Facebook’s dominance in the industry and the potential anticompetitive conduct stemming from that dominance.” The attorneys general from seven states and the District of Columbia also joined the investigation. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission launched an antitrust investigation of Facebook in July after fining Facebook $5 billion over privacy violations. 

“Even the largest social media platform in the world must follow the law and respect consumers,” said  New York Attorney General Letitia James. “I am proud to be leading a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in investigating whether Facebook has stifled competition and put users at risk. We will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions may have endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising.”

This week, the attorneys general from 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico launched an antitrust investigation of Google. “When there is no longer a free market or competition, this increases prices, even when something is marketed as free, and harms consumers,” said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. “Is something really free if we are increasingly giving over our privacy information? Is something really free if online ad prices go up based on one company’s control?” The states’ probes could expand to include other tech giants such as Amazon and Apple. 

The FTC and state AG probes complement the sweeping antitrust probes of the tech industry by the House Judiciary Committee and the Department of Justice

Links:

New York attorney general is investigating Facebook for possible antitrust violations (CNBC, Sep. 6, 2019)

Google faces a new antitrust probe by 50 attorneys general (CNBC, Sep. 9, 2019)

FTC to fine Facebook $5 billion over privacy violations (Speed Matters, Jul. 15, 2019)

Congress launches Big Tech antitrust probe (Associated Press, June 4, 2019)

Justice Department launches antitrust probe into big tech (ARS Technica, July 24, 2019)