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Facebook, Google Brace for Wave of Antitrust Probes From States

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Erik Larson and Ben Brody

September 6, 2019

(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. and Google are facing intensifying scrutiny by state law enforcement officers with authority to impose vast fines and even break up companies that are found to have violated antitrust and privacy rules.

New York is leading a coalition of states in a wide-ranging investigation of Facebook and the Texas attorney general said Friday that he’ll announce a separate multi-state probe Monday into anti-competitive behavior by large tech companies. Bloomberg reported this week that the investigation is targeting Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

The developments create fresh problems for Facebook and Google after a wave of criticism by politicians from both parties over their market dominance. And on Sept. 12, the House subcommittee focused on antitrust law will hold a hearing on the impact of data and privacy. The state probes target a wide range of practices that generate billions of dollars in revenue for the world’s biggest social-media company and the largest seller of search-based advertising.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said on Friday that the probe she’s leading will examine whether Facebook stifled competition and put users at risk by increasing the price of advertising, reducing consumer-choice quality and mishandling personal information.

“We will use every investigative tool at our disposal,” said James, a Democrat. “Even the largest social media platform in the world must follow the law and respect consumers.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said the investigation his state is leading will focus on “whether large tech companies have engaged in anti-competitive behavior that stifled competition, restricted access, and harmed consumers.”

He didn’t specify which companies would be probed.

(Snip)

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Sep 10, 2019

 

4 major tech companies run the web-based world. But the reach of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple goes far beyond your browser. And as they face new scrutiny about privacy, anti-trust, and data security - they’ve poured cash and lobbyists into Washington to protect their interests. Lisa Fletcher follows the money.

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