Over the past few months and years, Google has had its fair share of fines as a result of antitrust investigations in Europe, being forced to make changes to some of its core products to avoid further penalties. In the United States, however, the company has gone by relatively unscathed despite the controversies happening on the other side of the Atlantic.
Now, that could be set to change, according to a new report from the Washington Post. A number of state attorneys general are readying up to launch an antitrust investigation into the search giant. Though not many details were given, as sources familiar with the matter claim the plans could change, it seems that the investigation is set to be announced next week on September 9.
Some state attorneys general have criticized the company in the past for its handling of user data and the way it surfaces search results. This past summer, some of them met with officials from the Department of Justice to discuss their concerns about potential antitrust issues. It's worth noting that back in July, the DoJ was reported to be launching its own probe into big tech companies, among which is, of course, Google. Later, the DoJ's antritrust chief, Makan Delrahim, revealed that it was working with state officials to coordinate the investigation.
Just like the investigation initiated by the Department of Justice, there's no particular case or situation quoted as the reason for this one. Most likely, officials will be looking for anything that's a potential threat to users or fair competition. While neither the DoJ nor state leaders potentially involved in the investigation have commented on the report, a Google spokesman, Jose Castaneda, has said:
“Google’s services help people every day, create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country(...). We continue to work constructively with regulators, including attorneys general, in answering questions about our business and the dynamic technology sector.”
With big tech companies taking center stage in many political discussions, it's reasonable to expect that more investigations like this will begin to pop up over time. Whether or not the company will face any fines or other penalties remains to be seen.