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California Investigating Google For Potential Antitrust Violations

California has opened its own antitrust probe into Google, leaving just one state that has yet to do so. “In September, attorneys general from 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia announced an antitrust investigation into Google focused on the company’s dominance of the advertising technology market,” reports Politico. “Over the past 10 months, that investigation — led by Texas — has expanded into other aspects of the company’s business, including its conduct in the search market.” From the report: California — which houses Google’s headquarters in Mountain View — was the most notable holdout in the multi-state group, and Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra has repeatedly declined to answer questions about why the state wasn’t a participant. The California antitrust probe is a separate investigation from the multi-state effort, two of the individuals said. All of the individuals spoke on condition of anonymity to talk openly about a confidential probe. Alabama is now the only state that is not investigating the company. It was not immediately clear what aspect of Google’s business California is targeting.

Google has previously been in California’s crosshairs over antitrust concerns. In the early 2010s, California was among five states that investigated Google alongside the Federal Trade Commission over allegations the tech giant biased its search results to favor its own products. The FTC opted against filing an antitrust suit and closed its probe in January 2013. California and the other states, which included Texas, New York, Oklahoma and Ohio, later closed their probes in 2014. California has its own antitrust laws, the Cartwright Act and the Unfair Competition Act, that are sometimes interpreted more broadly than the U.S. federal antitrust law. Unlike federal antitrust law, California’s laws do allow government enforcers to seek restitution or civil penalties for violations.

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