The antitrust investigation, which is being carried out by 48 US states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, originally targeted Google’s digital advertising tactics and whether they unlawfully stifle competition. According to the CNBC report, the attorneys general of the investigating territories are now planning on writing subpoenas known as civil investigative demands to “support the inquiries” into Android and Google’s search function, which the attorneys general claim is used to advertise Google’s own products and services.
Several lawmakers, including 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren and US President Donald Trump, have also urged the breaking up of big tech companies.
In a September statement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the investigation, said that “we have 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,” the New York Times reported at the time.
Additionally, attorneys general in other states have launched similar investigations into big tech companies including Facebook, Amazon and Apple, Sputnik reported.
“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” said US Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division in July. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
The department also said in a release at the time that the review “will consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online.”
In a September statement, Google claimed that it has “always worked constructively with regulators” and will “continue to do so.”
In July, Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission, agreeing to pay a fine of $5 billion over its mishandling of users’ information, such as its release of almost 90 million Facebook users’ personal data to former IT service management company Cambridge Analytica.