How state attorneys general are leading the fight against Big Tech.


State attorneys general are leading efforts to rein in the power of the big tech companies, as a California lawsuit filed this week against Amazon and a Texas-led coalition in the fight against Google marked a victory.

The cases show bipartisan anger at big tech and are just two in a state-led effort to rein in the power of tech giants at the state level to take over the industry’s biggest companies. It just stopped.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said, “Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, people can see what’s happening to the power and control these big companies, Big Tech companies, and everyday Americans have. ) told The Hill. “I think people are realizing, the attorney general is realizing, if we don’t talk about this soon it might be too late, you can never stop it.

Almost every state is suing Google and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, amid three previous lawsuits against the companies. Two years.

A concerted effort will help law enforcement agencies pool their resources and give them an edge against mammoth companies. But they still face an uphill battle to capture the nation’s wealthiest businesses, using the rulebook critics say it’s too late to follow suit.

“It gives them more ground troops to fight the war,” said Bill Baier, former head of the Justice Antitrust Department and director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Competition.

“It’s still very, very expensive and the cost of hiring external experts to do economic analysis and technology analysis is very high and expensive,” he said. “Coordinating or combining as a group of executives helps solve that problem. They’re still out of private practice, and a private company—a successful private company doesn’t have the dollars, but it’s close to leveling the playing field.”

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weisser (D), who is leading one of the multistate cases against Google, is no stranger to the world of antitrust enforcement. He served in the Obama administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division. But in the year He said he does not plan to actively enforce antitrust laws when he assumes his role as Colorado attorney general in 2019.

“The issues were more. [rose in] importance,” he said. “And it’s clear I’m not the only one — governments across the country have seen… levels of focus that are clearly unhealthy today. And that means consumers are more vulnerable to being bullied.

The issue leading Weiser has been a bipartisan effort from the start. In announcing the case in December 2020, Weisser was joined by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson (R), Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slattery (R) and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (D).

The lawsuit alleges that Google illegally maintains a monopoly on search engines and advertising markets through anti-competitive agreements. Google has denied the allegations.

The states argue that Google is trying to expand its monopoly in the mobile market into new sectors such as the automobile industry.

“The idea is that if you have a connected car and you say to your car, ‘Find me a Chinese restaurant,’ what’s the power? Google is making deals with automakers that reflect their limitations on mobile,” Weiser told The Hill.

“We’re really looking forward to it. Things have happened in the last decade. ‘Can antitrust enforcement act earlier?’ I mean, you’re always going to be in a delicate position when you’re dealing with markets in their infancy. [stage]He added.

Google’s marketing power in advertising is aimed at a specific issue led by Paxton. A coalition of 16 states and a coalition of Puerto Rico that filed that lawsuit won earlier this week when a judge ruled that most of the lawsuit should go ahead, striking down only part of the lawsuit, which was allegedly based on the Google and advertising agreement. Facebook.

Meanwhile, e-commerce giant Amazon has emerged as the latest target of government antitrust enforcement action.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) sued Amazon on Wednesday, alleging that its anti-competitive deals with third-party sellers stifled competition and resulted in higher prices for consumers.

D.C. Attorney General Carl Racine (D) made similar allegations in a lawsuit brought by a judge in March. Racine filed a notice of appeal last month in an attempt to revive the case.

“What we’ve seen is that they’re using a lot of market power on the platform to prevent sellers and service providers from being able to offer their prices at a lower price than Amazon because of the restrictions that Amazon mandates sellers to meet in order to get on the platform,” Racine told The Hill. We’re sure it will fit.”

Amazon has denied the allegations in both the DC and California cases.

As for Meta, 48 attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the company in December 2020. He said the complaint was an attempt to squash emerging rival apps in an attempt to undo more than a decade of acquisitions by WhatsApp and Instagram.

Meta denied the allegations, and pointed out that regulators approved the acquisitions at the time.

Timing issues are a key factor in antitrust cases, Weiser said.

“Critics can’t have it both ways. They said, ‘Oh, you’re too quick to see Monopoly everywhere. You’re bringing things up left and right based on what you think might happen.’ Then what’s going on and Instagram and WhatsApp to say, ‘Oh, you’re late.’

States have been struggling with their lawsuits against Meta. A judge decided to dismiss the lawsuit last year, saying the states complained that the 2012 and 2014 procurements were too late.

The state’s attorney general filed a motion to appeal in January. An appeals hearing is scheduled for Monday.

These efforts by state law enforcement — as well as federal regulatory agencies — to prosecute tech giants come as critics say antitrust laws need to be updated to target tech companies. For example, proposals to update the rules use language to partially define dominant organizations based on the number of users, which could help the law apply to modern titans operating in the digital world.

In the year Congress has been mulling legislative action to overhaul antitrust laws to better address the tech industry since the release of a sweeping House report in 2020 that said Amazon, Google, Apple and Meta, then known as Facebook, blocked competition.

The report led a series of bipartisan bills to update antitrust laws in ways that supporters say are better suited to the modern age. For example, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are sponsors of the American Innovation and Online Choice Act, which aims to prevent companies from choosing their products over their competitors, and the main accusation is state complaints against companies such as Google and Amazon.

But even proposals with bipartisan support from the Senate and House Judiciary Committees quickly failed to pass a floor vote in either chamber before the midterm elections approached.

“I think it’s important that Congress update the laws and create better protections for consumers and residents and Americans,” Racine said.

“One of the reasons for being behind [other countries] This assumption is what we have in Congress, where the whole grid is,” he added. “And it is incumbent upon the Attorney General to use all tools in the toolbox, including prosecution and other measures, to ensure that residents are protected in this violation.”



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