U.S. Attorneys Seek to Investigate Biggest Tech Cos, Especially Google

The forecast for the biggest U.S. tech companies, known on Wall Street as FAAMG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google) has become ominous in the past week at home–with a chance of real action being taken to break up some companies, going beyond what the European Union has done in the past in regulating and fining tech companies $9 billion for anti-competitive practices, security breaches and privacy violations.

A Monday morning press conference from an alliance of bipartisan state attorneys general in 50 states and territories led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, announced plans to challenge Google for anti-trust violations. That followed a weekend story in The New York Times predicting efforts by regulators to end non-competitive practices that are crippling competition, especially because of the sheer size and power of companies like Google.( California and Alabama did not join the effort, as the companies have headquarters in those states.)

Held on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, the attorneys general wanted to drive home their point that the law is mightier than an enormous company like Google, which can wield their power against any entity that challenges them. Paxton said Google controls searches and online advertising on its mammoth platform. Google is expected to make “more than $48 billion in U.S. digital ad revenue this year, far rivaling its peers, while capturing 75 percent of all spending on U.S. search ads, according to eMarketer,” The Washington Post reported.

Google isn’t the only company the attorneys are looking at as an anti-trust violator, according to the Times story, which names Facebook as the second most likely target, according to Letitia James, the New York attorney general.

On Thursday, the House antitrust subcommittee will hold its third hearing on the impact of competition on data and privacy. Here are some of the charges: regulators say Amazon favors its own products for sales, Apple controls which apps it allows on its stores, Facebook has bought up competition and controls the majority of social media,

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook for its social media acquisitions. “Regulators could claim the acquisitions were a violation of the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts — two laws that have been foundational in the past century of federal antitrust prosecutions,” according to the Times story.

Google controls more than 90 percent of searches worldwide and dominates the digital ad market, too. London’s newspaper The Telegraph calls Google “this century’s Standard Oil” and says American regulators’ actions “have been a long time coming” and that they “have been dragging their heels.”