GRAND FORKS — North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joined nearly every state in the country in an antitrust investigation delving into Google’s business practices.
The investigation, which is led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, aims to determine if Google’s dominance of online advertising unfairly stops competition and growth of other companies. The states will collaborate with federal authorities to look into competitive conditions for online services, a press release said.
According to Paxton, there is 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.”
Previous investigations into the tech company turned up violations for advertising illegal drugs in the U.S. and three antitrust actions brought by the European Commission. The prior probes did not fully address "Google's sustained market power and the ability to engage in serial and repeated business practices with the intention to protect and maintain that power," a press release from Stenehjem said.
The investigation includes every state except California and Alabama. Puerto Rico and D.C. have also joined the investigation.
“Google’s control and flow of information is something that significantly affects all of us in our everyday lives, and this investigation will address any harmful conduct by Google as a result of any inappropriate actions or violation of free market competition,” Stenehjem said in a news release.
Other major Silicon Valley companies, like Facebook, Apple and Amazon, have also recently faced scrutiny over antitrust, privacy and speech moderation.