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Google reportedly targeted by states in coming antitrust probe

The possible investigation comes as the tech industry faces greater scrutiny from government officials.


An announcement about an investigation of Google by more than half the states could be made Monday. 

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google will be the subject of an antitrust probe being prepared by more than half of the country's state attorneys general, according to a report Tuesday by The Washington Post. An official announcement could come Monday.

The investigation comes as Google and other Silicon Valley giants face increased scrutiny from government officials and regulators. The Justice Department in July announced an antitrust probe into the tech industry more broadly, targeting Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Meanwhile, House Democrats in June announced their own investigation into tech giants, meant to explore whether the companies are engaging in "anti-competitive conduct." 

It's unclear if the states' investigation could also dig into Google's peers, including Facebook and Amazon. 

Asked for comment, Google wouldn't specifically address the reported investigation. 

"Google's services help people every day, create more choice for consumers, and support thousands of jobs and small businesses across the country," a Google spokesman said in a statement. "We continue to work constructively with regulators, including attorneys general, in answering questions about our business and the dynamic technology sector."

Silicon Valley has become a hot topic for regulators as consumers reckon with the tech industry's role in spreading misinformation and collecting the data of its users. In 2013, the FTC wrapped up an investigation that decided unanimously that Google wasn't violating any antitrust laws, after allegations of biased search results. But government officials have since taken a sharper stance toward tech companies. 

Google has also faced antitrust pressures from regulators in Europe. In March, the search giant was hit with a $1.7 billion fine from the European Commission for "abusive" online ad practices. The Commission said Google exploited its dominance by restricting its rivals from placing their search ads on third-party websites. 

Last year, the EU's executive arm fined Google a record $5 billion for unfair business practices around Android, its mobile operating system. The investigation focused on Google's deals with phone manufacturers, requiring them to preload specific Google apps and services onto Android phones.