US state attorneys general (AG) will meet with the Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers this week to discuss their respective investigations into Google. The web giant is under investigation in the stateside for several antitrust violations. A whopping 50 state AGs, as well as the DOJ, are investigating the Mountain View company. Even the company’s Fitbit acquisition is being looked into.
The state AGs and the DOJ have not shared information about their concurrent investigations into Google to date. However, this meeting could lead to the two groups joining forces, Reuters reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
At least seven of the 50 state AGs will be attending the meeting. The Wall Street Journal had first reported about the meeting on Sunday.
Authorities may join forces against Google
In a sign of growing scrutiny of technology giants, the Justice Department formally launched an investigation into Google last year.
A few months later, attorneys general from 48 US states, led by the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, as well as the AGs from the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico launched a separate investigation of their own into the Alphabet-owned company.
Both the probes revolve around Google’s control over online advertising markets and search traffic. They are also looking into the company’s possible anticompetitive behavior in its Android OS.
Google “dominates all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet,” Paxton had said last year. Over 90-percent of Google’s revenues come from ads.
So if this investigation leads to the company being forced to make some changes in its ad policies, it could make a serious dent in the revenue numbers. The state AGs reportedly met in private in November last year to map out a strategy on the investigation.
The DOJ is also investigating Google’s acquisition of smartwatch maker Fitbit over privacy concerns.
The merger means Google will have access to a worrying amount of private data of Fitbit users, and that’s not something authorities are willing to take lightly. The web giant is already under scrutiny over its data collecting practices.
These investigations might well lead to Google being slapped with a huge fine, again. The company has been hit with multiple fines by the European Union in the last few years.
Google may also require to make several changes in its business policies. However, it’ll likely be a while before any of that happens. These kinds of probes usually take a good amount of time.