Posted on Jul 12, 2020 at 11:56 am
A new front is opening against Google in California. The state where the number 1 head office for digital advertising is located has launched an investigation to determine if the company is violating its antitrust laws, Politico said on Friday (July 10th). Along with Alabama, the state of birth of Silicon Valley was the only one not to have opened an investigation into possible obstacles to competition by GAFA last September.
The absence of California in this fight had surprised. Some speculated on his desire not to offend one of the biggest employers in the region. In reality, his authorities preferred to take their time to prepare their solo offensive. ” California has one of the largest teams in the country dedicated to anti-competitive practices. And she probably did not want to collaborate with the Ministry of Justice because it is openly hostile to this state. Its antitrust division sued it over its CO2 emission standards for vehicles “Points out Avery Gardiner, former member of the antitrust division of the Department of Justice, today legal director of the Center for Democracy and Technology association.
The threat is great: California is known for its aggressive approach to antitrust. With New York, it led the battle against the merger between the telecom operators T-Mobile and Sprint, which was finally validated in early April. Its anti-competitive practices laws also take more account of harm to competitors than federal laws, which focus on that of consumers.
Formal complaint from the Ministry of Justice
The move is the latest in a long list that pressure on tech giants is growing in the United States. The Justice Department, which has made Google its priority since the initiation of a GAFA investigation a year ago, is preparing to announce the opening of a formal complaint against the company in one or two months, according to the American press. A first against a technology giant since Microsoft in the late 1990s.
The other 48 states that launched their investigation in September could join it, or file a separate complaint. The charges have not yet been clarified, but relate to the company’s monopoly in digital advertising. According to “The Information”, several states are pushing for the management of its search engine, in particular its way of promoting its own products, to be included in the scope of the complaint.
Congress, which has been conducting its own investigation for a year, is also increasing its surveillance. For the first time in their history, the CEOs of Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook will be heard by the Judicial Commission of the House of Representatives on July 27. The hearing is expected to help finalize a report recommending changes to antitrust law.