What you need to know
- U.S. states' combined antitrust investigation into Google may be set to increase in its scope dramatically.
- A new report claims the 50 attorneys general conducting the probe may also scrutinize the tech giant's Android and search businesses.
- The proceedings have, so far, been restricted to the company's advertising business.
Just two months after 50 state attorneys general announced their intent to launch a joint antitrust investigation into the company's ad business, Google is in line for even more governmental scrutiny, as CNBC reports the investigations may soon expand to cover its search and Android businesses as well.
The publication also cited unnamed sources as suggesting that the law enforcement officers may already be in the process of drafting a type of subpoena known as a civil investigative demand (CID) to facilitate this widened scope of inquiry. Given that search and Android are two areas where Google has an overwhelming lead over its competitors, the extended reach of these investigations marks a severe shot across Google's bow, and the company is not taking it lightly. It's already fighting CIDs from the Texas AG over claims the team involved in investigating it includes ex-Microsoft employees, and it fears the loss of trade secrets as a result.
The company is already being investigated in a separate inquiry by the federal government and the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a larger probe into Big Tech. It's also being investigated by Indian authorities for the same reason, while the EU has already slapped the company with three separate fines to the tune of $5 billion, $2.7 billion, and $1.7 billion, respectively, over allegations of unfair and anti-competitive practices. And if that track record and the numerous fines the Palo Alto giant has been forced to pay over the years are anything to go by, this investigation may prove to be yet another costly write-off on the company's books in a few years to come.
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