Several state attorneys general will meet with U.S. Justice Department attorneys next week to discuss their respective probes into Google, according to a Wall Street Journal exclusive. Sources indicated the groups could join forces down the line. The meeting will allow everyone to compare notes on the monopolistic practices of Google’s advertising services, online search, and Android services.
The meeting — At least seven attorneys general, including Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, were invited by the Justice Department. Paxton leads the executive committee of the states’ investigation into Google, announced last September with the support of 50 states and territories.
On the federal level, the Justice Department launched a broad antitrust review last summer, targeting Google along with Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. In November 2019, the chief of the department’s antitrust division warned Big Tech that data and privacy are factors to be considered in future antitrust cases.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr confirmed the scale of the Justice Department’s interest in its antitrust probes to the National Association of Attorneys General in December. “Many online platforms are not only big, but also offer a wide breadth of products and services,” he said. “Antitrust enforcers therefore must take an equally broad view of these platforms’ offerings, and the relationships between different markets, products and business practices.”
A potential coalition of federal and state resources, as well as information, should raise some concerns for Google. The company benefited greatly from the last time a major coalition was formed to combat anti-competitiveness in tech. The destruction of Microsoft’s browser monopoly in the 1990s allowed Chrome to become a dominant player in the market.